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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.

South Carolina statute states that it is "unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle" when his or her ability to drive is impaired. Unfortunately, the word "drive" is not clearly defined.

Is a person driving only when the motor is running and the vehicle is moving? Or could sitting behind the wheel with the motor turned off be considered driving? These are all questions that could come into play in a DWI case.

If a person is identified by police as sleeping in a vehicle, there may be an effort to push DWI charges. Specifically, an officer might ask a person if they drove after drinking or why a person is sleeping in a parked vehicle. Any statements made at this point could be used as evidence against the individual.

The unfortunate reality is that every drunk driving case is different and the unique details could have a significant influence on the outcome of the case. Keeping this in mind, it may be best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help sort out the details of a DWI arrest and suggest legal options moving forward.

Source: WestLaw, S.C. Code 1976 § 56-5-2930

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