Honest Answers From Your South Carolina DUI and DUAC Defense Lawyers
When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.
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I got a DUI in my driveway. Can officers really arrest me for DUI when I made it home?
Yes. As pointless as it may seem, you can get a DUI no matter how close you are to home—even your driveway.
I’ve had clients charged who:
- Told officers they were almost home,
- Pointed to their homes on the street where they got pulled,
- Got taken from their driveway in handcuffs.
Here’s why it can happen (not that it helps you feels better, but it’s the truth): some officers have their minds made up you drove under the influence and don’t care if you made it safely to your destination.
And you can still be convicted. If convicted, you get no breaks for making it home. You can still face the same harsh penalties which can include administrative license suspension, criminal punishment, and even ignition interlock.
You need help. The arresting officer already ignored your pleas for mercy. It’s time to invest in a professional who stands on your side and who can design a defense to win your case at trial—or maybe get the officer to back down and reduce the DUI to a charge you can live with.
And here’s what we can do to help. We have the knowledge to find defenses you don’t even know, and the skills to present them effectively in court.
I’ve even written a book on these cases I’ll give you for free. Call us now at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free meeting to answer your questions and build your defense, or just send us an email or live chat right where you are.
What’s the process for defending my first DUI case?
DUI first offense cases generate a lot of anxiety, and over the years, I’ve found some of it actually has to do with me. It’s not that I’m hard to deal with or talk to (see what my clients say); it’s just people get nervous about the unknown. I’ve realized nobody really knows what will happen when they come to my office. While I work hard to make my people comfortable and confident, I now know seeing me for the first time is not a whole lot better than going to a new dentist.
To reduce that strain for you, here’s the basic steps I take to defend your case, so you can rest a little easier about what we’ll talk about and how I’ll do it.
Let’s Start Here
I want to hear your side of the story
Many folks with DUIs feel as if the officer ignored their explanation for the driving mistake that got them pulled over. They feel their arrest was destined from the start, no matter what. I listen to you, because it’s my job to tell your story to the extent it helps win your case. So your side is our starting point.
I will get you through the administrative hearing
If your license got suspended at arrest, you’ve got deadlines to meet or you face serious consequences. Our initial prime objective is requesting that administrative hearing to get you back on the road. Once it’s scheduled, we defend you at it. You’ll know how that works before we even request the hearing, because we talk about it at our first meeting.
We don’t always take this step—I only use this if I feel it will work. Most folks have a single goal: prevent a DUI conviction. They’re happy to resolve their case with a dismissal and plea to a lesser charge like reckless driving. If I feel this could be within reach, we attend your initial court date. There, I try to negotiate a reduction with the officer.
A vital part of this can be showing the officer you’re worth it. This can involve your attending programs to show you’re making this a learning experience to be a better driver.
If it fails, or if we decide not to pursue this option, we go the next step.
Request a jury trial
Sometimes justice must be won. A jury trial usually delays your case by several months, which can also help. As time passes, the officer’s determination to convict you at any cost can fade into reasoned judgment to let you have a reduced charge.
This is a motion I file with several pages of legalese boiling down to this: it makes the State give me all the evidence it has in the case, whether it helps or hurts. The most important parts are the videos.
When I get the discovery response, I analyze it. You get copies, too, because I want your input. Because your videos can unlock secret defenses you probably don’t know, I watch them extremely carefully. I also make extensive notes showing how you don’t look impaired—and what the officer did wrong. Did you know there’s a right way and many wrong ways to give field sobriety tests?
By the time we get a trial notice, I’ve done a lot of the groundwork already. We fine-tune it for trial. Again, I do the hard part getting ready to talk to the jury and cross-examine the officer. It’s what you hired me to do, right? Your case can be resolved at any point before, during, and even after the trial while the jury deliberates.
You’ll know our strategy and have a voice in it. That includes whether you testify. If you do, you’ll be ready.
If we get to this point, you can read this article on what to expect. Know this: we go in ready and expecting to win.
Yep, It’s a Lot to Handle, So Let a Professional Do It
The best way to get the best result in a DUI case is have an experienced advocate who can press your side and manage all the little things you don’t know how to. Give your case to me so you can get on with your life…because most of these cases are marathons, not sprints.
Do I have any hope of winning my DUI when the officer took my blood and urine? Doesn’t he just have to show up at court with my medical records and BANG, I’m convicted?
You do have hope to win…if you get an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side.
There are many ways to overcome a blood or urine sample by keeping it out of evidence, which could lead to a dismissal or a plea deal you can live with. But the law is complex and it requires gathering facts you might not know are important to present the right arguments to the judge. Here are some of the main ones:
- The test may be unauthorized. If it’s not authorized, it’s not legal, and if it’s not legal, it has no place in the legal system.
- The test might require adherence to SLED regulations and testing at the state crime lab, depending on when you got arrested. Doing the test the wrong way or testing it at the wrong place can make it invalid.
- Medical records alone can’t convict you. Those are hearsay, which shouldn’t come into evidence to convict you, especially in a criminal case. In fact, allowing this type of hearsay is unconstitutional. But if you don’t know how to object, it will come into evidence and you can be convicted.
- Before the results come into court, the officer must prove a “chain of custody” to assure the court your sample didn’t get tampered with or contaminated. This means he can’t vouch for the test or result. At a minimum, the person who took the sample and the tester need to testify.
- Even if the results come in, your case is still about impairment regardless of your test result. A skilled DUI defense lawyer knows how to overcome a test result with evidence it doesn’t matter because you weren’t intoxicated, as shown by other evidence in the case.
Sound simple? So is flying into outer space, when all you see is the rocket fire and soar into the sky. The reason it seems simple is that the professionals handle all the details. If you’ve got a blood or urine DUI case, you need a professional to handle your details.
For other questions about DUI or DUAC cases, check out our free report on the subject. Feel free to email us with your questions so we can schedule a free meeting to start building your defense.
I got arrested for DUI and blew .06. The officer refuses to dismiss it even though I blew under the legal limit. Can he do that?
Surprisingly, yes. This is another reason why there really is no such thing as a “legal limit” for DUI breath tests. That’s right, you can still get stuck with a DUI if you blow under the so-called legal limit of .08.
Here’s why: the South Carolina DUI law allows you to be convicted at levels as low as .06. The reason folks call .08 the “legal limit” is because the DUI law allows the jury to conclude you were impaired at that level. They don’t have to, of course—we’ve had clients get acquitted at twice that level.
If you blew .06 or .07, the law allows the jury to consider your breath test along with other evidence in reaching a verdict.
A .05 or less results in automatic dismissal, unless the officer whips out another weapon in his accusation arsenal: the claim you must have been using drugs. That’s right: the cop can tell the jury that his years of law-enforcement experience led him to conclude you were intoxicated based on your behavior, independent of any breath test.
For any low reading, the officer’s insistence on your guilt can throw a monkey wrench into your case: a request for a urine or blood test based on his (often newfound) accusation you had to be on drugs, too, since your breath test wasn’t high enough.
If you’ve got an officer insisting on convicting you despite a low reading, it’s time to hire a professional to take him on. The truth is, these “low blow” cases aren’t a slam dunk for either side—but there is so much at stake for you if you lose, you need an experienced DUI trial lawyer to convince the officer to reduce your charges or win your case at trial.
Because these cases move fast, your time is running short. Feel free to start a live chat with us to schedule an appointment for a free meeting about what we can help you do to avoid the lowest blow of all—a DUI conviction that can damage your reputation, cost you thousands, and burden you with ignition interlock.
I got charged with DUI and blew a .16. The officer told me that’s twice the legal limit. Is there any hope I can win my case?
Yes, for three main reasons.
- There is no “legal limit” in South Carolina. What the law actually says is that if you blow .08 or more in a DUI case, the jury may use that evidence to find you guilty. Here’s what’s important: they don’t have to. If we truly had a legal limit, the jury would have no choice. In fact, there would be no need for one. You’d be convicted right after the test. But that’s just not how it works.
- The breath result is only one piece of evidence. A jury considers whether all the evidence proves you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—a really high standard. The rest may point to an acquittal.
- The machine doesn’t test for the ultimate fact DUI cases are about: impairment. Cases can be won at trial with your reading because the evidence didn’t support impairment beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced DUI defense lawyer knows how to point out how your conduct and driving does not support a conviction—and find defenses you don’t know about, as shown in our free report on these cases.
A DUI Charge Does Not Mean Conviction
Even if you got charged with DUAC, your case is not open and shut. The jury can find you guilty based on the reading, but you get to present evidence contesting what (if anything) that reading means.
If you’ve been charged with DUI or DUAC and are already asking these questions, you’re headed in the right direction. If you truly felt this was a battle not worth fighting, you wouldn’t be reading this. Download or request our free report on DUI/DUAC cases revealing defenses you might not even know about. Call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to talk about how we might help you win your case.
I got arrested for felony DUI. The officers gave me a breath test, then took me to the hospital and made me give a blood and urine test. Can they do that?
Yes. In a felony DUI case, officers can ask for a test of breath, blood, or urine. They also have the right to ask for just one or a combination of any two. Unlike a typical DUI, where officers are required to first offer a breath test before asking for any others, an officer in a felony DUI can go straight for a blood or urine test.
You still have defenses, some of which are described in the related articles listed below. If you refused any of these tests, you will need an experienced felony DUI lawyer to help you explain why—in a meaningful way a jury will identify with, especially considering the grave circumstances of your case, with severely injured victims or worse.
Even if you have no defenses, you need a defense lawyer with knowledge and experience in felony DUI because these charges are dire: they carry long prison terms and other penalties. Worse, the public despises these cases, and they often attract heavy media attention. This puts pressure on law enforcement and the Solicitor to push for harsh punishment.
If you’ve been charged with felony DUI, you need a talented professional to stand up for you and make your voice heard to win your trial or preserve your freedom as much as possible. One of the best free offers you’ve ever received might be sitting down with us to discuss your options, defenses, and how we can help you overcome this enormous roadblock in your life. Call us at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 to schedule your free meeting to get started on building the case of your life.
If you want more information on basic DUI issues, check out our FREE report, The Terrible Price of a DUI/DUAC Conviction and Defenses You Might Not Know About.
What is ignition interlock for South Carolina DUIs?
Effective October 1, 2014, South Carolina law changed to make ignition interlock a factor in every DUI case. The change impacts arrests made October 1 or after. For arrests before October 1, only repeat offenders have to worry about ignition interlock.
Ignition Interlock Basics
Here are the basics of ignition interlock, if you have to get it:
- How it works. Ignition interlock is a device installed in the ignition system of your car that gives you a breath alcohol test before your car will start. Compared to the breath test machine officers try to get you to blow into at arrest, it’s relatively small. But if you have someone with you, there’s no way to hide that you’re blowing into it. If the device detects even a small amount of alcohol, your car won’t start.
- Getting a device. Ignition interlock devices must be approved by the State. The agency responsible for monitoring ignition interlock is the agency best known for its watchful eye: the probation department. The Probation Department has information online about currently approved interlock devices. To be approved, the device must take your picture when you give the test, so the State can more easily detect violators who get someone else to blow for them.
- Cost and maintenance. Ignition interlock installation is expensive and burdensome. You pay a monthly fee for the system. Device manufacturers generally do not publish the costs. Devices must be inspected regularly, forcing you to take the time to take your car for inspection. Failure to get timely inspections could mean your car won’t start.
- Penalties for violations. Attempting to start the car with a blood alcohol concentration as low as .02% causes an increasing scale of violation points against you. The more points you get, the more penalties you get. Penalties range from lengthening your interlock requirement, to requiring an alcohol drug safety action program assessment that could lead to you to completing a costly, time-consuming treatment program, up to license suspension.
- It is a crime to avoid the device. If you’re required to use an interlock, driving without one is a criminal offense punishable by up to a year in prison plus an extension of interlock for an additional six months. And that’s for a first offense. There are only a few limited exceptions. Trying to sidestep interlock requirements in other ways is also a crime, including having someone else blow in the device or even asking him to.
Ignition interlock is an extremely tough new penalty for DUI offenders. Often the best hope in avoiding it is by presenting the best defenses to fight off an initial license suspension and conviction. Unfortunately, DUI cases tend to be very complex legally. Worse, if you’re not experienced defending these cases, it can be a daunting task to convince a jury that a police officer was mistaken, since the jury’s full of drivers who want to protect themselves from drunk drivers.
If you’re facing a potential sentence involving ignition interlock in Spartanburg or Greenville or nearby, feel free to schedule a free meeting to discuss how we might give you the best shot at avoiding ignition interlock. You can call us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 888-230-1841, or use our live chat feature right from where you are.
For other questions, check out our free report on these cases, right on this page.
Related Links:A Spartanburg Lawyer Can Help Your DUI Case
I just got arrested for DUI. What are my chances of beating the charge?
DUI cases can be more winnable than most people think. But you can’t fully evaluate your case or properly develop defenses without the single most important piece of evidence: the video from your arrest and breath test—even if you refused the test.
Unlike human witnesses, video cameras don’t conveniently forget facts or twist them in their favor. Cameras just record the truth. That’s why South Carolina law requires these videos during a DUI/DUAC arrest, almost without exception. Our state Supreme Court has observed the purpose of DUI videos is to prevent DUI trials from being “swearing contests.” You probably had a few of those as a child, where a dispute over pulled hair or spilled milk boiled down to “did too!” and “did not!” Because the penalties for DUI can be severe, the legislature wisely passed a law to protect you, officers, and juries from deciding cases based on who yelled best, last, or loudest.
Video Evidence Can Be Vital to You DUI/DUAC Defense
In our experience, videos are usually helpful to you, the one charged with the crime. The videos contain evidence vital to your defense, including:
- Video law violations. The South Carolina video law requires officers to record specific aspects of their investigation and the breath test. An officer’s violation of the law can lead to dismissal, even if the evidence against you is overwhelming.
- Your driving. That’s what the case is really about, right? We’ve seen videos where our client’s driving was so flawless, we wondered how he ever got pulled over at all. If a jury feels that way, you’re off to a good start in winning your trial.
- How the officer did on field sobriety tests. That’s right, we said how the officer did. For a field sobriety test to be valid, officers must properly give you very specific instructions. You can’t be expected to pass a test when the instructions are wrong, can you?
- Your conduct. Often the best way to tell when someone’s under the influence is how he or she acts. How you walked, talked, and responded to the officer’s everyday instructions can reveal a lot about how you weren’t under the influence. By the way, that does not include field sobriety tests—no one does anything like that, ever, except maybe tightrope walkers or the Karate Kid.
In any case, the best shot you’ll ever have is with a trained professional. A skilled DUI defense attorney will know to demonstrate video law violations to convince a judge to dismiss the case, and to highlight how the evidence reveals your innocence for a jury to acquit you. You need an experienced lawyer who regularly handles DUI cases, since the law and the defenses can be highly technical and complex.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Greenville, Spartanburg, or any nearby community, we’ll meet with you for free to give you a preliminary idea how we can help you and discuss in more detail how we can defend your case. If you have any other questions about DUI cases, check out other articles we have on this site or download our free report. Feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841, or email us or start a live chat right from where you are.
Related Links:The Path a Spartanburg DUI/DUAC First Offense Case Takes Through the Courts
I got charged with DUI in Greer for blowing .09. The officer told me I can plead to DUAC. Isn’t pleading guilty to DUAC better than DUI?
Probably not. "DUAC" is Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. Pleading guilty to that is basically admitting you drove with more than the so-called "legal limit" of alcohol in your system, which is .08.
Two Common Myths About South Carolina DUAC Laws:
- DUAC is not a reduced charge. The penalties for DUAC are exactly the same as DUI. Some people prefer to plea to DUAC because it “looks” better, since they can tell others they didn’t get convicted of “drunk driving.”
- DUAC does go on your criminal record, just like a DUI.
The only way I’ve ever heard a DUAC helping someone who was charged with DUI involved a case where the accused held a very high-paying job in another state. His contract provided he could be fired for a DUI. It said nothing about DUAC, since this charge is essentially unique to South Carolina. He had a totally unwinnable DUI case. Since he could plead to DUAC without losing his job, it worked for him.
This is not to say pleading to DUAC is always a bad idea. The first thing to do is hire an experienced DUI/DUAC attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case for every possible defense. An experienced defense lawyer can increase your chances of reduced charges, like reckless driving or a minor traffic violation. If an experienced DUI/DUAC lawyer tells you it’s in your best interest to plead guilty, at least you know you took your very best shot at avoiding a conviction and will still hopefully benefit from a thoroughly negotiated plea to a charge with the least possible consequences for you.
Our Attorneys Are Here To Help With Your DUI/DUAC Case
For more information on DUI cases in Spartanburg and nearby, check out our other articles on this site, including the ones below. You can also download our free report on these cases, called The Terrible Price of a DUI/DUAC Conviction and Defenses You Might Not Know About.
I got arrested for DUI in Spartanburg and the officer took my license. Why should I bother contesting it?
There are many reasons to contest your DUI/DUAC arrest suspension, called an “administrative license suspension.” The officer suspends your license on the spot for a DUI/DUAC arrest if you refuse the test or blow .15 or more. If you’re not a resident and still have your license, you’re not out of the woods. The officer can still suspend your privilege to drive in South Carolina, which gets reported to your home state’s DMV, often resulting in license suspension there.
To contest the suspension, you must request an administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest.
Here Are the Major Reasons to Contest Your License Suspension:
- It gives you a better driver’s license option until after the hearing. Once you request an administrative hearing, you have the right to a temporary alcohol license, allowing you to drive anywhere until after the hearing. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a route-restricted license, meaning you can only drive certain places, usually work, school, and your Alcohol Drug and Safety Action Program (ADSAP).
- It could prevent you from having to take ADSAP. ADSAP is called “drunk driving school”—you have to go to classes. It’s expensive, costing from $500 to $2500 (we expect $500 for a DUI/DUAC first offense). You don’t get your regular license returned after your suspension until you’ve signed up and paid.
- It could prevent you from having to get an ignition interlock. For arrests on or after October 1, 2014, you can end this suspension if you get ignition interlock, a costly device installed in the ignition system of your car that gives you a breath alcohol test before your car will turn on. Interlock is required a minimum of three months, even if less than three months remains on the suspension when you get it. You also still have to pay for ADSAP.
- You might win! The administrative hearing requires the State to prove several things, as we have discussed in other articles on this website. The officer might be unable to prove his case. Also, officers sometimes don’t show up for these hearings. If so, your lawyer can get this part of your case dismissed.
- It’s a battle that can help win the war. The officer’s testimony at the hearing could help your trial strategy, even if you lose. The administrative hearing testimony provides a glimpse of his trial testimony, which can help your lawyer prepare ways to attack it. The real war will be the DUI/DUAC criminal trial still to come. Also, because the administrative hearing often takes place months after your arrest, the officer may not remember the details. If he overstates his case, a talented DUI/DUAC defense lawyer can inflict extreme damage in cross-examination at the criminal trial by showing his testimony doesn’t match up with the video, i.e., the truth. This would damage the officer’s credibility and could increase your chances of victory.
- Peace talks. It’s a chance to discuss reducing the criminal charge with the officer, if that’s a strategy that will help you.
If you’ve had your license suspended for a DUI/DUAC first offense for refusing the breath test or blowing .15 or over, the administrative hearing can be critical to your case defense. Doing it right, like so many other aspects of DUI/DUAC cases in Spartanburg, can be a little tricky. Because a legal deadline looms over you, you owe it to yourself to discuss requesting an administrative hearing with an experienced DUI/DUAC lawyer who regularly handles these cases.
At Holland & Usry, we don’t just limit cases to Spartanburg. We also defend DUI/DUAC cases in Cherokee, Union, or Greenville County. You can always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting or start a live chat or email right where you’re sitting. We’ll be delighted to give you a free meeting to discuss your rights and potential defenses.
For more information about South Carolina DUI/DUAC license suspensions, you can also download our free report.