What Are The Defenses To a DUI in SC?

by | Oct 30, 2017 | Criminal Defense, DUI |

A DUI conviction can change your life forever. Not to mention, if you’re convicted the consequences are far reaching.

For example, you will lose your driver’s license, have to pay SR-22, install an interlock ignition device in your vehicle, and worst of all have a criminal record that could affect current and future employment.

Here’s the good news:

South Carolina’s Driving under the influence (DUI) laws are complex, and a wide range of defenses are available in DUI cases.

Many cases can be dismissed by the court based on the officer’s failure to follow the law. In other cases, the breathalyzer results, video, field sobriety tests, statements, or other evidence may be suppressed prior to trial.

General Defenses to DUI Charges

There are many general defenses that are not specific to DUI that can also be raised depending on the facts of each case.

Some examples of common defenses that could result in a dismissal, suppression of evidence, or acquittal at trial include:

  • The officer did not have probable cause for the traffic stop.
  • The officer did not have probable cause for the DUI arrest.
  • The officer did not comply with the mandatory provisions of South Carolina’s DUI law including videotaping at the incident scene and in the breathalyzer room.
  • The officer did not follow SLED policy and procedure during the field sobriety tests or breath test.
  • You were not driving.
  • You were not impaired to the extent that it materially and substantially impaired your ability to drive.

Let’s take a look at a few of them in more detail next.

Probable Cause for a DUI Traffic Stop and Arrest

Most DUI arrests are made after a traffic stop. If the officer can show that a traffic violation occurred, there will be probable cause for the stop even if you were stopped for something other than DUI.

Some of the most common traffic violations that lead to DUI arrests include:

  • Speeding.
  • Swerving.
  • Driving without headlights at night.
  • Failing to stop for traffic signals like a red light or stop sign.
  • Not coming to a complete stop or “rolling through” a stop sign.
  • Not using turn signals.

Not all DUI stops are the result of general traffic violations. Most jurisdictions now have DUI enforcement teams who do nothing but ride around making traffic stops and looking specifically for signs of DUI.

Some police departments and national organizations have implemented programs that reward police officers and departments who make the highest number of DUI arrests, giving them new patrol cars or other incentives.

Once a traffic stop has been made, there must then be probable cause for the DUI arrest itself. This will typically be based on the officer’s observations which are often the same from case to case: impaired driving, the smell of alcohol, the driver’s own statements, and performance on roadside field sobriety tests.

South Carolina’s Mandatory Videotape Statute

South Carolina’s DUI laws require that the officer videotape the traffic stop from the moment the blue lights come on until the moment of arrest, and they require that the officer videotape the entire breathalyzer procedure.

When the officer does not comply with the statute’s mandatory provisions, including capturing the complete field sobriety tests and the Miranda warnings on the videotape, the remedy is dismissal of the case.

Charged with DUI in South Carolina?

The many requirements in South Carolina’s DUI statute are designed to protect motorists from overreaching police officers.

The videotape can be the prosecution’s best evidence against a DUI defendant, but it can also be a defendant’s best DUI defense.

If you have been charged with DUI or DUAC in the Myrtle Beach, Conway, Charleston, or Columbia areas, contact the South Carolina DUI defense attorneys at Coastal Law, LLC, today at (843) 488-5000 to find out how we can help. You can also fill out our online form to set up a free, no-strings-attached consultation.

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