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Defending against felony DUI charges in South Carolina

A DUI arrest is no small matter no matter how minor the charges happen to be. However, a felony DUI is exceedingly serious because if it results in a conviction, you could be sentenced to many years in prison.

A DUI charge could be elevated from misdemeanor to felony level as a result of a variety of circumstances. Some of the most common are a head-on collision, high blood alcohol results on a Breathalyzer test, video footage that shows extremely poor performance on a field sobriety test and an accident that results in serious bodily injury or in death.

An accident can be reasonable suspicion for a DUI

To give you blood alcohol tests and see if you have been drinking, the police need to have reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence. You need to be aware that being involved in just about any accident can meet this criteria. While most drivers will not be tested just because they were in a wreck, the police could use it to justify the testing.

This is perhaps most important to note for accidents that were not your own fault. If the someone else runs a red light and hits you, but the police then think you seem like you've been drinking, they may test you. It does not necessarily matter that you did not cause the accident, and you can't get out of the test on those grounds alone.

Did someone spike your drink?

Imagine going out and deciding only to have one drink, knowing it wouldn't put you over the legal limit. Then, after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction or getting in an accident, you take a breath test and find out that you're actually drunk. You don't know how, but you're over the legal limit, and so you're facing charges.

This is something that, while it doesn't happen often, has been reported in the past. It can happen when someone else spikes your drink without your knowledge, and so you end up drinking much more than you thought. If you don't "feel" the alcohol yet, you could be completely oblivious.

Can you get a DUI on a tube or a raft?

In South Carolina, one of the things people love to do every summer is to get out their inner tubes and rafts and float down the rivers. This is a relaxing way to spend a hot summer afternoon, and it can really be a relief from the heat.

You may be thinking that another way to cool off would be to drink a nice cold beer while you're tubing or rafting, but you know that you can get a DUI for using a boat while under the influence of alcohol. Can you also get one when you're on a non-powered watercraft, like a tube?

Police officer extracts allegedly drunk man from burning car

A police officer from South Carolina likely saved the life of a man who was allegedly drunk and sitting in his wrecked car as it burned. He ran forward and pulled the man out, escorting him to safety.

The dramatic video shows the officer charge forward with a fire extinguisher in hand. He did not just put out the entire fire, as the whole front of the car was engulfed in flames, but he was able to beat the flames back and get the door open. He grabbed the man's arm, yelling at him to get out. The man stood up and let the officer escort him away from the vehicle.

South Carolina's buzzed driving campaign

In South Carolina, law enforcement officials have been running a campaign telling drivers that "Buzzed driving is drunk driving." The idea here is that many people think they're not drunk, even though they are, and so they get behind the wheel without realizing that it's a problem.

The issue, though, is that the campaign almost creates more questions than it answers. First of all, are buzzed driving and drunk driving the same thing? Nowhere is "buzzed" actually defined, so it could mean far different things for different people.

What are the time constraints on a blood alcohol test?

You know that a blood alcohol test measures the concentration of alcohol -- or ethanol -- in your blood. These tests contribute to DUI charges and arrests because they help police determine if you've been drinking in a more conclusive way than just field sobriety tests. However, are you wondering how soon a test can work and how long it will be good for?

The first thing to know is that the alcohol only needs to be in your body for a few minutes in order for the test to pick it up. As soon as you take a drink, it's safe to assume that you're going to register on a test. This is important to note because you may not even feel the effects of the alcohol yet, but you can still be charged if a test is used and you're over the legal limit.

Be aware of boating under the influence laws

In the hottest days of summer, nothing may sound more relaxing than taking your boat out and drinking a nice cold beer. If you do, though, you need to be aware that there are laws prohibiting boating under the influence, just as there are laws against driving while intoxicated. A surprising number of people don't even know that they can be charged for this, so they make mistakes that could easily have been avoided.

The reason the laws are on the books is that the U.S. Coast Guard found that boating under the influence significantly increases the odds that an accident will be fatal. In fact, the chances of a fatality go up by an amazing 34 percent.

Attorney General calls for people to take cabs or call Uber

Alan Wilson is the attorney general in South Carolina, and he recently penned an opinion piece calling for people to stop driving after drinking in the state. In it, he asked those who wanted to go out and drink to either call a local cab company or to use Uber, a mobile app that allows people to contract drivers online.

First, he noted that alcohol has been linked to roughly 88,000 deaths each year; this is for the entire United States, not just South Carolina. He said that there are only two preventable causes of death that take more lives. It's important to note that he was referring to all cases in which alcohol was involved, not just DUI cases. For instance, overdosing could contribute to these statistics.

What changes happened to the ignition interlock system?

The ignition interlock system started in 2007 in South Carolina. This system, which essentially puts a device on a person's car that tests his or her breath for alcohol before allowing the car to start, came about as a result of the Prevention of Underage Drinking and Access to Alcohol Act. However, some changes were made to it in 2014, when the government passed a new regulation known as Emma's Law.

The first major change was that any person who blew more than a .15 in Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) had to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This was true even if it was the person's first offense.

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