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DUI Is a Criminal Offense, Which Means You Need a Defense Attorney After an Arrest

DUI is a criminal offense most often affecting individuals who are not typically involved in criminal activity. With frequent changes in DUI laws, it has become extremely difficult for individuals to gauge when one can drive, and when one should not. The most important point to remember is this: An arrest for DUI is not a conviction for DUI. At least, not with the right defense lawyer on your side.

To put a winning Myrtle Beach DUI attorney on your side, contact T. Kirk Truslow, P.A. for a free consultation. The firm can be reached at (843) 212-1116 or via this online contact form. Ask about the firm’s same-day appointment options when you call!

Is Drinking & Driving Always Illegal or Are There Exceptions?

Given the frequency of law enforcement ad campaigns, it would appear to many that it is illegal to drink and drive; however, this is not always the case. Unfortunately, many law enforcement professionals are in the practice of arresting any individual who has consumed an alcoholic beverage before driving, whether or not they admitted to, or showed signs of, impairment. In fact, there have even been cases in which an arrest was made when the defendant hadn’t had anything alcoholic to drink.

By law, the crime of DUI requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual consumed enough alcohol or drugs, or a combination thereof, to render them “impaired.” In the legal context, “under the influence” means impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. The proof required for conviction, particularly when put up against a well-prepared defense, is much, much more than “drinking and driving.”

DUI Defense Strategies

Apart from the factual defense, which includes challenging the Field Sobriety Tests and Breath Alcohol Datamaster machine, a DUI defense must include a thorough legal analysis. This includes analysis of a host of legal issues currently in place that can prevent the prosecution of a DUI case for reasons not associated with whether an individual was impaired.

A proper DUI analysis should include examination of the following:

  • proper procedures were followed in accordance with the mandatory video recording statutes,
  • probable cause for the traffic stop,
  • maintenance records of the breath alcohol Datamaster machine,
  • Miranda warnings, and
  • SLED policies and procedures for obtaining a proper breath alcohol sample.

When a case involves alcohol testing by urine or blood, many other issues arise that must also be investigated.

Mr. Truslow is prepared to not only conduct a proper analysis of the circumstances leading to your DUI charge, but prepare a strategic defense that reasonably calls into question the validity of the “results” that were found.

Statutory Penalties for a DUI Conviction

The statutory penalties for DUI have increased. The current statutory penalties are set forth below.

First Offense

  • .08% BAC: Minimum jail time of 48 hours, up to 30 days and a $400 fine.
  • .10% to .015% BAC: Minimum jail time of 72 hours, up to 30 days and a $500 fine.
  • .16% or greater BAC: Minimum jail time of 30 days, up to 90 days and a $1,000 fine.

Second Offense

  • .08% BAC: Minimum jail time of 5 days, up to 1 year and a fine between $2,100 and $5,100.
  • .10% to .015% BAC: Minimum jail time of 30 days, up to 2 years and a fine between $2,100 and $5,100.
  • .16% or greater BAC: Minimum jail time of 90 days, up to 3 years and a fine between $3,500 and $6,500.

Third Offense

  • .08% BAC: Minimum jail time of 60 days, up to 3 years and a fine between $3,800 and $6,300.
  • .10% to .015% BAC: Minimum jail time of 90 days, up to 4 years and a fine between $5,000 and $7,500.
  • .16% or greater BAC: Minimum jail time of 6 months, up to 5 years and a fine between $7,500 and $10,000.

Fourth or Subsequent Offenses

  • .08% BAC: Minimum jail time of 1 year, up to 5 years.
  • .10% to .015% BAC: Minimum jail time of 2 years, up to 6 years.
  • .16% or greater BAC: Minimum jail time of 3 years, up to 7 years.

Ancillary Penalties for a DUI Conviction

Ancillary penalties associated with a DUI conviction include:

  • Suspension of driving privileges
  • Criminal record
  • Expensive and time-consuming Alcohol and Drugs Safety Classes (ADSAP)
  • 3-year requirement to carry expensive SR22 insurance policy
  • Requirement to install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition Interlock Device
Ignition Interlock requires an individual to have a device installed in the vehicle that prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the individual’s breath when they blow into the device before starting the car. It is expensive to install, and also requires expensive routine checks.

Whereas this requirement used to only apply to a conviction for a second or subsequent DUI offense, it now also applies to a conviction for even a first-time DUI offense where the individual registered a breath sample of .15 or greater.

Administrative Penalties for a DUI Conviction

Administrative consequences often accompany a DUI arrest. Though an individual is permitted to refuse to provide a breath sample, doing so will result in a suspension of driving privileges and mandatory attendance of the Alcohol and Drug Safety Classes (ADSAP). This is also applicable if an individual chooses to submit a breath sample, and that sample is a .15 or greater.

These penalties are instituted at the time of the refusal or registration of a breath sample of .15 or higher; however, an individual has the right to request a hearing to rectify this situation. Additionally, upon requesting the hearing, the individual’s driving privileges can be restored until the time of the hearing. The administrative hearing must be requested within 30 days.

To best avoid the harsh penalties of a first-time or subsequent DUI, put the winning Myrtle Beach DUI lawyer at T. Kirk Truslow, P.A. on your side. Schedule a free consultation by dialing (843) 212-1116 or submitting an online contact form.

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Field Sobriety Tests

A driver suspected of DUI will almost always be requested to perform Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). While it is not uncommon for an officer to request a driver to perform any number of tasks, such as touching the tip on one’s nose with the index finger or going through the alphabet backwards from T to H, there are only three “Standardized” Field Sobriety Tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmous test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmous (HGN)

Nystagmus references involuntary jerking of the eyes. In this field sobriety test, the officer holds a stimulus (it may be a pen, a light, or just the officer’s finger) 12 to 15 inches from the driver’s eyes and instructs the driver to follow the stimulus with his eyes. The officer then performs a routine to check for a number of “clues” that the driver is impaired. The problem with HGN, however, is that it depends on the officer adhering to a strict protocol in order for it to be even arguably accurate. Not every DUI is the same. Moreover, nystagmus in an individual can result from a wide variety of medical conditions.

Walk and Turn

The driver is instructed to stand heel-to-toe and take nine heel-to-toe steps down a real or imaginary line. The driver is then to shuffle-turn and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back. As with the HGN test, the officer must adhere to a strict protocol to ensure even arguable accuracy. The officer is required to observe for “clues”, such as using arms for balance or not touching feet heel to toe while walking the line.

One-Leg Stand

The driver is instructed to stand on one leg while raising the other leg six inches from the ground. The driver must then keep his eyes on the raised leg and count aloud until ordered by the officer to stop. Again, the officer looks for “clues” of impairment, such as putting the raised foot on the ground or using the arms for balance.

Legal Defenses to Roadside Field Sobriety Tests

The problems with using the field sobriety test results as evidence of impairment are many. First, most often a driver’s first time ever attempting any of the field sobriety tests is the performance given following a traffic stop for DUI (under the stress and worry of a DUI investigation and on video). For this reason, many people have labeled the tests as “failure designed”. The officer may give a demonstration of the field sobriety tests and might make it look easy, which should not be difficult given that the officer has done the tests hundreds or thousands of times. Also, many officers do not record the type and number of “clues” observed, but rather make a subjective, generalized conclusion of a pass or fail. Not explaining, demonstrating, or grading the tests properly can render the results meaningless.

A competent defense attorney should always attack the admissibility of the field sobriety test results as evidence in a trial when the tests are other than the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests discussed above, and when the tests are not explained, demonstrated or graded properly, the admissibility of the test results should be argued. At trial, the defense attorney should be fully prepared to expose the tests as failure designed, subjective, junk science.

Anyone who has been charged with DUI or Felony DUI in South Carolina must seek out a talented, experienced, and effective DUI defense attorney. If you have found yourself in this situation, don't wait to call T. Kirk Truslow, P.A. at (843) 212-1116.

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