Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer
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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Why can my driver’s license be suspended for refusing a breath test?
You’re right to wonder how the State can punish you for refusing to help the police in a DUI case when the Miranda rights basically tell you the refusal to help the police by making a statement won’t be held against you. It’s just another example of how strange and unique DUI cases are.
The reason officers can ask you for a breath test in a DUI case is a little bit of legal trickeration called the “implied consent” law. Here’s what it says:
S.C. Code § 56-5-2950(A):
A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person’s breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.
So by driving in South Carolina, you’ve given the State permission— without even knowing it—to test your breath, blood, or urine for alcohol or drugs in a DUI case.
But there are a few things you should know:
- You do have the right to refuse. If you do, while you face an arrest and license suspension, you can still contest it. If you do, you may qualify for a license to drive anywhere in South Carolina until that part of your case is decided. At trial for the criminal charge, you cannot be automatically convicted because you refused.
- Officers can only request blood or urine in limited cases. And even if they do justifiably get those samples, the results may never see the light of day. Just because the officer got your blood test from the hospital doesn’t necessarily make his case any easier.
There’s No Time to Waste and You’ve Got Hope
Whether you exercised your right to refuse the test or not, DUI is a very complex and challenging charge to defend on your own—you may have defenses you don’t even know about. And these cases are very rarely open and shut, no matter how confident the officer seems of your guilt. Learn more by downloading my FREE book.
If you’ve been charged, you owe it to yourself to get your questions answered by an experienced DUI attorney. Fill out our Get Help Now form to start building your defense with our DUI lawyer.
I got busted for drugs, and I think it’s because someone told the police—or even helped them. Can I find out who did it?
Maybe. I know that’s almost the worst answer to hear when your back is against the wall on serious drug charges. But technical legal rules impact your rights here—that’s why you need a technician to help you.
Here are the basics:
When Disclosure Is Usually Required
The State must often reveal the identity of the police informant when the informant:
- Actively participated in the drug sale for which the suspect got charged.
- Set up the police drug sale.
- Introduced police to the suspect.
- Is a material witness to the drug crime, like when he’s the only other witness to it other than the buyer and the suspect.
NOTE: There are exceptions. Disclosure isn’t always required here. If other factors or circumstances justify denying disclosure, the judge can keep the informant’s identity from you.
When Disclosure Isn’t Required
Courts won’t force the State to give up its informant when the informant is:
- Merely a tipster who gave a lead to law enforcement. That can mean the informant just called to tell police about seeing the suspect with drugs, instead of actively participating in a police set-up to buy from the suspect.
- A relatively unimportant witness who has little direct knowledge of the crime.
For example, in 1996, the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld not disclosing the identity of an informant who sat in the car during a drug buy orchestrated by police. The Court ruled against disclosure because the informant:
- Took no part in the drug deal,
- Had no part in setting it up,
- Never came near the suspect charged with selling the drugs,
- Never described the suspect to authorities,
- Never identified the suspect as selling drugs,
- And wasn’t the only other witness to the drug sale aside from the buyer and the defendant.
Give Yourself the Best Shot at Full Disclosure
Prosecutors don’t give up their sources without a fight. But it’s your freedom at stake, so you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to convince a judge to provide the informant’s identity. Because if you can’t take on your real accuser in court, you may just be fighting in the dark. That doesn’t end well.
To get your questions answered by an experienced criminal drug charge lawyer, fill out our Get Help Now form right now.
What happens if I get hurt so bad on the job that my injuries keep me from working anymore?
If your South Carolina work injury—or multiple injuries—are severe enough that your doctor or a vocational expert concludes you can’t work again, you may qualify for permanent and total disability benefits under workers’ comp. You can receive some major benefits:
- Free medical care for life. The workers' comp insurance company pays as long as the treatment relates to your work injury. You still have to pay for any other conditions or illnesses that aren’t related to your injury.
- Disability compensation. In most cases, disabled workers receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages for up to 500 weeks. But if you’re paralyzed or sustained a brain injury, you may qualify for that income for the rest of your life- see more on that below.
Two More Things You Should Know About These Benefits
- Being disabled under workers’ comp doesn't mean you're helpless. In fact, if you return to work, you keep the benefits. This encourages the severely injured to be as productive as possible.
- If you suffer total disability from a brain injury or paralysis, you might qualify for the maximum benefits under the law.
Protect Yourself Because Too Much Is at Stake
If your work injury case potentially involves total disability, your medical and financial futures are on the line. You likely need these benefits to prevent you and your family from falling into financial ruin as you waste away under untreated, disabling injuries. And you can rest assured the workers’ comp insurance company will fight you tooth and nail to save its precious dollars from your desperate need.
Hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney to build a convincing case for benefits to protect your future. This is the only chance you’ll get to do it.
If you’ve got questions about your case, start a live chat right where you are. An experienced South Carolina attorney will respond with answers.
What is a functional capacity evaluation (FCE)?
If your doctor wants guidance in assessing your accident injury for a permanent impairment rating, he might send you for an FCE.
Generally, it’s an exhaustive set of physical tests, usually given and scored by a physical therapist. Here’s what you need to know about FCEs.
Why FCEs Are Important
The doctor uses the results to give a more accurate rating, which can have a big impact on your case. We see them more often in South Carolina workers’ comp cases, where the results can help determine if you’re eligible for extra financial benefits for permanent and total disability and wage loss.
FCE Purpose From the Examiner’s Standpoint
There are generally three main purposes for the tester:
- Evaluate your ability to perform your job. The evaluator often has a copy of your job description from your employer.
- Define the physical level of work you qualify for under United States Department of Labor guidelines. Those provide 5 physical job demand categories: sitting, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy.
- Measure your loss of strength and motion from an injury.
Before moving on to the specific aspects of the test, there’s one vital thing you’ve got to remember.
Your Effort Counts—a Lot!
Exerting good effort is vital. These tests have built-in “lie detectors” that’ll expose deceptively low effort by you. Don’t try it. You’ll be smoked out, and it’ll ruin your case.
Now let’s turn to the tests and info used for the evaluation.
Physical Abilities Tests
The evaluator will test your ability to do the following, noting the maximum amount you can do:
- Lift from floor to shoulder, waist to shoulder, and a few inches off the floor to your waist.
- Push and pull.
- Basic motions including how much you can sit, stand, and walk (and whether you limp), climb stairs and ladders, reach overhead, and bend your knees to stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
- Hand strength and coordination—you’ll be evaluated on your ability to handle objects and grasp with each hand.
This evaluates for things like:
- Whether you limp.
- Your posture and whether you can stand upright.
- Muscle tone—the tests measure tightness, tenderness, and muscle spasm.
- Joint and muscle flexibility.
- Range of motion and whether your ability to move your joints falls within normal limits.
You might even do a treadmill test. This checks your ability to walk for time and distance. The evaluator observes your posture and ability to walk without a limp. The test measures how long you’re able to do the task before it hurts too much or you run out of breath or energy.
You Get to Provide Some Input of Your Own
The evaluator also interviews you about important points in your injury like:
- How you got hurt.
- Your treatment history including the doctors you went to, what they did for you, and any therapy you had.
- Medications you take for your symptoms and other conditions.
- Your physical limitations, such as the ones we describe in this blog post.
It’s Just Another Piece of the Puzzle
With the exception of living with a permanent injury from an accident, your FCE may be the most difficult physical part of your case. But it’s only part of the challenge you face. If you’re severely injured enough to require an FCE, there’s a lot at stake for you legally too. Just as you got doctors to protect your body medically, it’s time to ask a lawyer about protecting your rights legally. You only get one chance at your case, so don’t risk ending it with regrets.
If you’ve got questions about your case, feel free to start a live chat right where you are so an experienced attorney can respond to your concerns.
What’s the main reason for motorcycle accidents?
It’s not riders. A 1998 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal government agency, found the top cause of motorcycle accidents:
Other drivers (i.e. cars or trucks) who violate the rider’s right of way.
So take heed, cage drivers! Look out for motorcycles! NHTSA’s comprehensive analysis of the problem gives tips to help both drivers and motorcyclists avoid tragic or even fatal accidents:
- Drivers, avoid the deadliest of sins. Don't drive distracted. Cars and trucks present way too many options to develop fatal habits that take your attention off the road. When driving, just drive. No food, no phone calls, and certainly no texts. Just the road ahead.
- Riders should follow these tips and wear bright colors.
Need More Answers?
Motorcycle accident victims have lots of questions. And maybe, more importantly, there are questions you SHOULD ask but don’t know to since you’re not a professional in handling these cases. That’s why I wrote a free book on the subject, I Just Got in a South Carolina Car Accident, Now What?
If you want personal attention to your problem from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, feel free to start a live chat right where you are to start addressing your concerns, building your case against the motorist who ignored and hurt you—and making it right.
What is SR-22, and when do you have to get it?
If you’re charged with DUI, you quickly realize a lot of bad things can happen if you're convicted.
SR-22 auto insurance is one of them. Here’s what you need to know.
SR-22 Insurance Explained
- What SR-22 is. SR-22 is actually the name of a form your insurance company files with the DMV to prove you have auto insurance. It’s required for drivers who are deemed a high risk: the DMV needs extra assurance they’ve got insurance coverage to pay for a wreck if they cause one.
- You only get SR-22 if you’re convicted of DUI or DUAC. Until then, you’ve got nothing but the opportunity to avoid the pain of conviction. That’s why you owe it to yourself to meet with an experienced DUI defense attorney to strategize how to win your case.
- It’ll cost you more in auto insurance premiums. Costs vary. You’ll have an embarrassing talk with your insurance agent, and you may even lose your coverage if your current insurance carrier doesn’t offer SR-22. If that happens, you’ll have to shop it yourself.
- You’ve got to have it for three years. It’s the law.
- There’s no real way around it. If you’re required to have SR-22 but don’t, the law (S.C. Code § 56-5-520) forbids both a license to be issued to you and a car being registered in your name.
Like everything else associated with a DUI conviction, why suffer through it without a fight, or at least the peace of mind knowing you did all you could to prevent it? SR-22 is just one more monster from a parade of terribles that results from a conviction.
Does your insurance company really need more money? Don’t give them a handout, fight the charge.
Remember, if you have been charged with DUI, you might have defenses you don’t even know about. In fact, that’s a major part of the reason I wrote my FREE report on defending DUI cases, which you should read! And you can always call our office at 888-230-1841 for a free strategy session to start building your defense.
What happens if I get in an auto accident with an Uber driver?
Uber and other rideshare services add tremendous comfort and convenience, and no one thinks about getting hurt using them.
But bad things happen occasionally—and unexpectedly. You can be hurt without warning by a traffic collision involving a rideshare vehicle. Even if it’s not the Uber driver’s fault, you need to know how your case works.
Here’s the most important, basic stuff about your Uber car accident case.
First Things First: Uber Insurance Coverage for Car Accidents
The most important question for injury victims or families who suffer wrongful death in a fatal accident is this one: What insurance covers an Uber accident?
Here’s how Uber covers its drivers as of March 1, 2018:
- If the driver’s Uber app is off, he’s offline. Only the driver’s personal insurance applies.
- If the driver’s Uber app is on but the driver has no passengers and is not on the way to get them, Uber’s coverage is a maximum of: $50,000 for any one victim, $100,000 for the whole crash, and $25,000 for property damage.
- If the Uber driver is carrying passengers or is on the way to get them, coverage is up to $1,000,000 for crashes caused by the Uber driver. And if the auto accident is not the Uber driver’s fault, there’s good news for victims: If the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to pay for your injuries or loss of a loved one, Uber provides a maximum of $1,000,000 extra coverage, called underinsurance.
- While riding with Uber, if you’re a victim of a hit and run or an at-fault driver with no insurance, Uber provides up to $1,000,000 uninsured coverage for injuries or wrongful death.
Your case may be further complicated by other insurance coverage from other drivers’ policies—including your own.
And That’s Only the Tip of the Iceberg
That’s only the beginning of issues you’ve got to contend with in your case. For more free info about your case, a good starting point is our car crash home page. Or you can download our FREE REPORT on South Carolina car crash cases. As always, if you’ve got specific questions, fill out our Get Help Now form on this page or just call 888-230-1841 to speak to an experienced auto accident attorney.
What’s the difference between Stand Your Ground and self-defense?
Basically, South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground law gives added protection to defend yourself in certain places. In particular, here are three factors that are always important to a criminal defense based on this law:
- Added protection. If you qualify, you are immune from prosecution, meaning your case is dismissed. You do have to prove self-defense, but you don’t have to prove the fourth factor of self-defense, the duty to retreat if possible.
- Places. Your case must involve a residence, business, or occupied vehicle.
- Proof. You have to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely than not.
In contrast, you can use self-defense anywhere else. It’s tougher to prove, though, because:
- Less protection. The law doesn’t allow for dismissal. It’s a trial defense used to get an acquittal. You’ve got to show all four factors of self-defense, including the attempt to retreat or the inability to do so.
- Proof. To convict you at trial, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at least one element of self-defense doesn’t exist.
Don’t Risk Losing Your Legal Rights Without a Fight
If you’re wondering about Stand Your Ground or self-defense, you can’t afford anything but a criminal defense lawyer you trust. Your future’s on the line, and the State wants to take it. An injured victim or the victim’s family may be pushing hard for it, with the willing help of the police. Don’t let your side get drowned out. Call us at 888.230.1841 to start getting your voice heard.
How long will my driver’s license be suspended if I get convicted of a repeat offense DUI or DUAC?
First, be sure you’re even supposed to be charged with a repeat offense, because sometimes officers get it wrong.
Now to the dissatisfying answer to your question. Unfortunately, the real question here should be, “How long will I be on ignition interlock? If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s not just a breathalyzer you’ve got to pass before your car starts- it’s mighty expensive and embarrassing.
License Suspensions and Ignition Interlock for Repeat Offenses
For repeat offenses, the law’s brutally simple: your license is suspended until you get ignition interlock. Here’s how long you have to use the interlock system:
- For a second offense, two years.
- For a third offense, three years. But if the third offense occurs within five years from the date of the first offense, four years.
- For a fourth or subsequent offense, for life.
Now I’ll share a shocking truth that makes the stakes for your case even higher: you can’t get out of this by pleading to a reduced DUI offense. “Repeat offender” is based on the number of convictions you’ve had, so pleading to a DUI first offense in your DUI second offense case will probably deem you a repeat offender, subjecting you to ignition interlock.
It’s Worth It to Give Yourself a Fighting Chance, Because You Might Just Win
The long-term cost, inconvenience, and embarrassment of ignition interlock makes a repeat offense worth fighting. The truth about DUI cases is that you might have defenses you don’t even know about. In fact, that’s part of the reason I wrote the FREE report on these cases, which you can use for helpful info on your case.
And even if you have no winning defense, an experienced DUI attorney can help you reach a deal with prosecutors to minimize the consequence as much as possible.
If you want a free, no-pressure strategy session to answer your questions and start plotting your defense, call me at 888-230-1841 to schedule it.
How do you get charged with assault and battery based on the other person’s injuries?
The degree of your assault charge can be determined by the complainant’s injury severity as defined by South Carolina Code §16-3-600(A). Here are the legal definitions:
Great Bodily Injury
This can be part of an assault and battery high and aggravated (ABHAN) or assault and battery first degree charge. It means an injury causing:
- A substantial risk of death, or
- Serious permanent disfigurement, or
- Protracted loss or impairment of a body part or organ.
This type injury is often involved in shootings, stabbings, and extremely severe beatings.
Moderate Bodily Injury
This can be part of assault and battery second degree. It means an injury:
- Involving prolonged unconsciousness, or
- Causing temporary or moderate disfigurement, or
- Causing temporary loss of function of a body part or organ, or
- Requiring local or general anesthesia, or
- Resulting in a fracture or dislocation.
It specifically excludes minor injuries that don’t usually require extensive medical care, like cuts and scratches, bruises, and even burns.
Your Case Outcome Isn’t Set in Stone
These definitions don’t have to be the final word on whether you even get convicted, or whether you have to take the full rap. As regrettable as it is, how bad the complainant got hurt doesn’t legally matter if you’ve got a defense, like self-defense. Even if you have no defense, that’s all the more reason to seek a talented criminal defense attorney to help protect you from getting locked up.
And remember, you might have defenses you don’t know, as a sharp defense attorney might find loopholes in these definitions to reduce the charge, or he may just negotiate a better deal for you.
If you’ve got questions about the injuries in your assault and battery case, or any other questions, fill out our Get Help Now form to get them answered.