Charleston DUI Law Blog

South Carolina officials tighten drunk driving laws even further

Anyone who has faced drunk driving charges in the state of South Carolina can attest to the fact that they are quite stringent. Beyond the sentence handed down by the court, being convicted for driving under the influence involves a wide range of financial and personal costs.

As an update to a blog post published on March 18, South Carolina's governor expanded the state’s ignition interlock requirements with the stroke of a pen. Both legislative chambers unanimously passed the bill, which has been referred to as "Emma's Law."

Do South Carolina's open container laws apply to boaters?

For many people, there might be nothing more relaxing than going for a boat ride on a hot summer day. At the same time, legal adults may want to enjoy a cold beer or cocktail out on the water. While this may sound like an attractive leisure activity, there may be potential legal questions that arise as a result of consuming alcohol on a boat.

Many people might be aware that it's illegal to have an open container of liquor, wine or beer in the interior of a vehicle. If a person must transport open alcohol, it must be stowed away in the vehicle's trunk or cargo area. Known as open container laws, a person could face a citation, in addition to drunk driving charges, for violating this particular law.

Older drivers may be subject to intoxication after just 1 drink

For many people, it's not uncommon to enjoy a drink with dinner or while gathering with friends. Consuming only one alcoholic beverage might be seen as a way to be responsible. However, a study may prove to be problematic for people who believe they are doing the right thing in this sort of situation.

Researchers at the University of Florida took a look at the effect that having one alcoholic beverage has on a person's ability to drive. The study included two groups, one with people between ages 25 and 36 and the other was populated by people between 55 and 70 years old. Shockingly, the study revealed that older drivers showed signs of after having only one drink.

Public statements can be used against DUI defendants

Getting arrested for drunk driving is an intimidating experience -- no matter the circumstances. After all, a person may feel especially helpless once police believe that they have sufficient evidence to move forward with charges for driving under the influence of alcohol.

As we discussed in an article on our site, accused individuals should know that they have rights to defend against DUI charges. Even when it seems as though a case might be open and shut, further investigation by someone who is well-versed with DUI law could expose holes in the case built by law enforcement. This right to launch a strong, thoughtful defense against any set of criminal charges is a critical constitutional protection.

What is South Carolina's legal limit for underage drivers?

When a person thinks about legal limits for blood-alcohol content, 0.08 percent is probably what comes to mind immediately. This makes sense, given that every state has established this threshold for driving under the influence charges. However, it's worth noting that different standards might be set for underage drivers, depending on the state.

In addition to the nationwide standard for a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content limit, every state has a legal drinking age of 21 years old. Beyond that, South Carolina has a 0.02 percent limit for underage drivers. When a person under the age of 21 meets this threshold in a blood or breath test, his or her driver's license could automatically become suspended by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

Effect of high court ruling on DUI laws is up in the air, Part 2

In our blog post published on March 27, we discussed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that had a significant, immediate impact on defending against drunk driving charges. Although the Missouri v. McNeeley ruling was made several months ago, the full range of impacts is yet to be seen.

Namely, the legal community has wondered how requiring warrants for blood tests will affect driving under the influence of drug charges. This is especially pertinent given conversations throughout the country about legalizing recreational marijuana use. Beyond that, however, many are wondering what effect the ruling will have on implied consent laws throughout the country.

Effect of high court ruling on DUI laws is up in the air, Part 1

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court handled a landmark case for drugged and drunk driving cases. The nation's top court ruled that law enforcement officials cannot involuntarily draw blood samples from people who refuse to comply with the test unless a warrant is acquired. Authorities would only be able to obtain a blood sample against an individual's will under "exigent circumstances." Of course, this ruling has the potential to invalidate evidence in driving under the influence cases throughout the country.

One of the most crucial aspects of the Supreme Court is that time isn't an exigent factor. As such, police cannot leverage concerns about dissipating blood-alcohol or drug content to obtain warrantless blood evidence.

Standard field sobriety tests may not always be accurate

When a person imagines what it would be like to be pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she might include field sobriety tests in the mental picture. These tests are supposed to help cops detect signs of intoxication, so it might be natural to wonder: Are they actually effective?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a set of three field exercises (known collectively as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test) were developed to pick up on clues of intoxication and impairment. Although the tests are typically the same, interpreting the results can be a subjective process.

South Carolina felony DUI laws are stringent, specific

Staring down felony charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may feel incredibly intimidating. This feeling is understandable, knowing everything that is at stake in this type of criminal case. Not only are felony sentences typically harsh, but being convicted can cause a number of privileges or rights to become unavailable. For example, those who have a felony record typically cannot own firearms or vote in elections.

Although a person might feel helpless when being charged with felony-level DUI, the important thing to remember is that everyone accused of a crime has a right to launch a criminal defense. Not only that, but prosecutors may not always have an ironclad case.

South Carolina bill would expand ignition interlock requirement

At first, it may not be entirely apparent how many areas of life can be affected by a drunk driving conviction. Not only that, but law enforcement officials are typically pretty aggressive about pursuing prosecution. When all is said and done, being convicted for driving under the influence amounts to much more than just a simple traffic fine.

At this time, ignition interlocks are one of the consequences for a second DUI conviction in South Carolina. However, state lawmakers are considering expanding that requirement to some first-time offenses, which could change the landscape of DUI defense.


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