Types of DUI Offenses in South Carolina
There are several different types of DUI offenses in SC, each with different elements – what needs to be proven for a conviction – and different degrees of punishment.
The most common impaired driving offense in South Carolina courts is “traditional” driving under the influence (DUI). In a traditional DUI case, the state must prove 1) that you were driving and 2) that your ability to drive was materially and substantially impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs.
Despite what you see in television ads or billboards paid for by the state and by special interest groups, it is not illegal in South Carolina to drink and drive. If you have been charged with DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, while driving, you were intoxicated to the point that your ability to drive was materially and substantially impaired.
How Does the State Prove a DUI Offense?
The state will typically attempt to prove a DUI offense with breathalyzer or blood test results, the arresting officer’s testimony about any field sobriety tests that were conducted on the roadside, the officer’s testimony as to their observations, the officer’s dashcam video and bodycam videos, eyewitness testimony, and any incriminating statements that you made.
In drug cases, the state will ordinarily have to bring a toxicologist to testify as to the levels of drugs that were found in the blood sample and what their effects on the body would be at those levels.
How is DUAC Different?
Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) is South Carolina’s per se statute.
Although other evidence of intoxication is still admissible in a DUAC case, the state only needs to prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater. If you refuse the breathalyzer or blood tests, you won’t be charged with DUAC. If you are charged with DUAC, all of the same defenses that apply to a traditional DUI are still available to you. You can still challenge the admissibility and the accuracy of the breath or blood test results, you can introduce evidence of sobriety, and the videotaping requirements still apply.
Should I Refuse the Breathalyzer?
You have the right to refuse the breathalyzer and, in most cases, it is in your best interest to refuse. You will probably be arrested and the refusal itself may have consequences such as an immediate license suspension. [hyperlink] Despite this, you will most likely have a better case when it is time to appear in court.
When great bodily injury or death results from an accident involving a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will be charged with felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury or felony DUI resulting in death.
In either case, these are emotionally charged cases that can often result in lengthy prison sentences. A felony DUI defense lawyer must understand the dynamics of a case where there are angry and grieving victims or victims’ families – a dynamic that often will determine the prosecutor’s approach to the case.
The attorney must be prepared to deal with potential media coverage which will almost always be negative for the defense, and there will usually be the added dynamic of an injury or wrongful death suit that will be filed in civil court.
Contact Johnny Gardner Law Now
If you have been charged with any type of DUI offense in the Myrtle Beach, Conway, or the Horry County area, you need an experienced DUI defense lawyer who knows how to handle these complex cases.
Call Johnny Gardner Law today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help.