DUI Defenses – DUI Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

You’ve been charged with DUI, now what? How do you defend against a DUI case?

DUI law in SC is complex, and there is no “silver bullet” to get your case dismissed. Depending on the facts of your case, however, we may be able to get your case dismissed completely, have the ticket re-written to a non-DUI traffic violation, or win your case at trial.

What are some of the more common defenses that we see in DUI cases?

Suchenski Violations – SC’s Videotape Requirements in DUIs

Pursuant to a South Carolina Supreme Court case called City of Rock Hill v. Suchenski, if the officer does not follow the mandatory provisions of SC’s DUI laws, your case may be dismissed either by the prosecutor or by the court.

Common violations that may result in dismissal include:

  • No videotape: the officer is required to record the entire traffic stop from the moment the blue lights are activated until you are placed under arrest;
  • No SFSTs on the video: the videotape must include the complete standardized field sobriety tests – if the defendant leaves the camera’s view or if the camera is positioned so that it does not film the suspect’s feet or legs, there is no way for the attorneys, judge, and jurors to evaluate the tests;
  • No Miranda warnings on video: the officer must record the reading of Miranda rights to the suspect; and
  • No recording from the Datamaster room: the breathalyzer test must also be recorded, including the 20-minute observation period and the administration of the test.

A violation of any mandatory requirement in SC’s DUI laws (i.e. the language in the statute says the officer “must” or “shall” do x, y, or z) can result in dismissal.

Violations of Policy and Procedure

Although they are not mandatory, violations of policy and procedure may result in suppression of breath test results or other evidence. This may include:

  • Violations of SLED policy and procedure for breath tests or blood tests;
  • Irregularities in the Datamaster machine’s records (for example, if we find numerous error messages in the SLED database for your machine when you took the test); and
  • Maintenance issues with the Datamaster machine that you were tested on (for example, if the simulator solution was outdated or the temperature was wrong at the time of your test).

Can I be Charged with DUI in SC if I Wasn’t Driving?

If you were not driving at the time of the alleged offense, you are not guilty of DUI.

Imagine what may seem like a worst-case scenario to some people: You get hammered at a bar. You leave and drive back to your hotel. In the parking garage, you back your car into a wall where it remains as you pass out on the steering wheel.

Police arrive and find you behind the wheel in the driver’s seat. The engine is still running, and the transmission is in reverse although the car is resting against the wall and not moving. They have to stop the field sobriety tests because you are falling down drunk, all on camera. They arrest you and take you to jail where you blow a .30 on the breathalyzer.

Guilty of DUI?

No – because you were not driving.

Unless you admitted to driving or the state has another witness who can testify that they saw you driving, they cannot prove the first element of driving under the influence in SC – that you were driving.

Sobriety is Always a Defense to DUI

Obviously, if you were not intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired, you also should not be convicted of DUI.

Whenever possible, we can present sobriety witnesses to testify as to their observations and your ability to drive. Poor performance on field sobriety tests does not always mean a person is drunk – are you physically able to perform the tests? Do you have back, leg, or neck injuries? Are there other reasonable explanations for your performance on the SFSTs?

SC DUI Defense Attorney in Charleston

The potential defenses to DUI charges in SC are too numerous to list on a webpage, and the defenses in your case will depend entirely on the facts of your case.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) or felony DUI in the Charleston, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach areas of Eastern SC, call Charleston, SC DUI defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.