Charleston DUI Law Blog

Taking a look at South Carolina's breath testing site mandates

Popular imagery of drunk driving arrests generally involves roadside field sobriety testing and breath tests. Although sobriety tests may come standard in South Carolina traffic stops for drunk driving, the breath test portion will probably look a little different.

Regulations from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the agency responsible for maintaining the testing program, indicate that very specific conditions must be met for a breath-alcohol test to be administered.

Feds seek to impose new ignition interlock standards on states

Earlier this year, South Carolina lawmakers took steps to tighten the state's drunk driving laws, which were strict to begin with. As a result of this most recent round of changes, some first-time drunk driving offenders would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed. Up to that point, only repeat driving under the influence offenders faced this mandate.

Now, U.S. Congress is jockeying to leverage all 50 states into clamping down even harder on first-time offenders. The ultimate goal with this legislation is to have a nationwide policy requiring first-time DUI offenders to have an interlock device installed, no matter what. Although this has yet to become federal law, it could seriously reshape law enforcement.

Defining criteria for felony boating under the influence charges

In past blog posts, we've discussed how South Carolina statutes address boating under the influence. Essentially, the many of the same standards applied by law enforcement for land-based drivers also apply to boat operators.

Along that same line, South Carolina law outlines what constitutes a felony BUI charge. Much like land-based felony driving under the influence offenses, the prescribed punishments for such charges are no laughing matter.

Will South Carolina lawmakers lower legal limit for DUI?

For several years now, the defined legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration among South Carolina drivers has been 0.08 percent. The law wasn't always set at this benchmark, however. Federal officials pushed to reduce the legal limit and leveraged states to follow along by tying the issue to funding. Eventually, all 50 states complied.

There has been renewed talk about altering the legal limit associated with driving under the influence laws, which is determined on a state level. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board suggest that 0.05 percent should be the new standard for intoxication.

With this renewed effort in mind, many might wonder: How low is low enough?

Unique South Carolina DUI laws place burden of proof on police

In many ways, South Carolina has unique laws regarding driving under the influence. This has served as a catalyst for discussion on this blog.

One of our blog posts, for example, noted that South Carolina law requires DUI arrests to be video recorded. Not only that, but the video footage must meet some very specific requirements in order to be considered admissible in a court of law.

Beyond that, breath tests for blood-alcohol concentration cannot be conducted at roadside using portable devices. This issue will be explored further in a future post.

A recent report indicated that some law enforcement officials vocalized the idea that it's not easy enough to convict people on DUI charges, largely due to these legal requirements.

Bars and stripes forever? South Carolina DUI patrols this weekend

For many people, the Fourth of July is a highlight of summer. The holiday is viewed as a great way to celebrate the country's founding alongside friends and family. After all of this revelry, however, South Carolina residents may want to do their best to avoid facing legal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Throughout the state, officers from the South Carolina Highway Patrol and local departments will be on high alert. In other words, cops will do everything they can to make DUI stops and arrests.

Test accuracy is essential in driving under the influence cases

When a breath test shows that a driver has a blood-alcohol concentration higher than legally allowable, officers conducting a traffic stop will not hesitate to take action. From the perspective of law enforcement, having results from blood alcohol tests, from breath or blood draw, might make it seem as though a guilty verdict is inevitable.

However, this assumption made by law enforcement and prosecutors hinges on one thing: accuracy.

Without accurate test results measuring blood-alcohol concentration, it may not be safe to assume that a driver was over the legal limit.

Felony DUI defense: Prosecutors have the burden of proof

One of the most commonly uttered phrases in the world of criminal defense is "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Although many readers may hear this phrase on a regular basis, it may not be clear just how weighty a phrase it really is.

In any criminal proceeding, prosecutors have the burden of proof. As a result, their case must clearly demonstrate that defendants have committed the act they are accused of. Even if there is a shadow of a doubt that a person plausibly may not be guilty, then a conviction shouldn't be reached.

Building a case for license restoration after breath test refusal

In the immediate term, loss of a driver's license is probably is the consequence for drinking and driving that affects people most on a day-to-day basis. Certainly, having a mark on a criminal record is something that can follow a person for a lifetime, but being unable to legally drive for at least six months can have devastating consequences.

Our blog post published on June 6 discussed tactics used by police in response to breath test refusal. One aspect of this issue that wasn't explored at length is driver's license suspension. In addition to fighting driving under the influence charges that result from a blood test, it may also be important to respond to the license suspension that result from breath test refusal.

A closer look: Defining drinking and 'driving' in South Carolina

When a person decides to enjoy a drink or two, it's not uncommon to take precautions to avoid the risks associated with driving under the influence. After all, no one plans or desires to be charged for drunk driving. However, there are certain circumstances in which a person might misjudge his or her ability to drive.

If a person might come to the realization that it is probably not safe to drive after consuming alcohol, it may seem safe to sleep in a parked vehicle and wait until any lingering effects of alcohol wear off. Unfortunately, however, people may not be in the clear.


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