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 didn’t take the breath test in my DUI. Will I be automatically convicted?
No. Refusing a DUI breath test can be a hard choice to make in an already intimidating, pressure-filled situation, but it’s most likely the right thing to do.
You don’t know anything about that machine known as the “breathalyzer.” (The actual name for South Carolina’s breath test machine is the DataMaster.) And don’t forget who asked you to take the test—the officers who want to convict you. Do you really think it’s intended to help you? How do you know it even works?
You’re likely better off fighting it at trial—with a skilled advocate to level the playing field for you. You’ve got rights.
At your DUI trial, the judge should instruct the jury along these lines:
- You, as a citizen charged with a crime, never have to prove your innocence. You don’t have to produce a shred of evidence or a word of testimony. Instead, the police must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You have the legal right to refuse the test.
The jury is free to decide what importance they want to place on your refusal to take the breath test. That’s why you need an experienced DUI trial lawyer who can explain the refusal in your favor. There are solid reasons we’ve presented at trial for years.
In our experience, refusing the test removes the focus from an untrustworthy, malfunctioning machine and puts it on what DUIs are really about: your driving and whether you acted impaired.
It’s not about field sobriety tests, either.
To win, you need a professional to find the defenses you don’t even know about. For more on those and questions you should be asking, check out my FREE DUI REPORT.
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.
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.
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.
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 four 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 use the officer's evidence 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. See the link below.
- The machine's not magic. While officers can get stars in their eyes calling it a scientific wonder, it's really a glorified grocery scanner. And it might just be wrong, or even broken.
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 review the evidence for defenses you might never find, 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.