How to Get a DUI Dismissed in South Carolina

Most of our clients want to know how to get a DUI dismissed – they don’t want a trial, they don’t want a reduced charge, and they definitely don’t want to plead guilty to DUI.

I can’t tell you how to get your DUI dismissed in a blog post – if you have been charged with DUI in the Charleston, SC area, you need to retain a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible who will review the evidence in your case and help you to prepare for trial.

I can tell you a bit about DUI law in SC and how we handle DUI cases in general terms. We will get your case dismissed, find an outcome that you agree with, or try your case to a Charleston, SC jury.

One way to get a DUI dismissed in SC is when the arresting officer or the Datamaster operator did not follow the mandatory provisions in SC’s DUI law.

Other ways to get a DUI dismissed in SC may be possible based on what we find when we investigate your case. We can’t know if we will get your DUI dismissed or if we are likely to win a trial until we have done an independent investigation, reviewed all evidence in your case, and prepared your case for trial…

How to Get a DUI Dismissed if the Officer Did Not Follow SC’s DUI Law

Some police, prosecutors, and victim’s advocates complain that too many DUIs get dismissed in SC – that’s bull. Some DUIs are dismissed because the police do not follow the law. In other cases, breathalyzer results may be suppressed because the officer did not follow the law.

City of Rock Hill v. Suchenski – Mandatory Provisions of SC DUI Law

SC’s DUI laws contain a mandatory videotaping provision which requires the officer to record the traffic stop and breath test procedure.

The purpose of SC’s DUI videotape law is to provide reliable evidence of the suspect’s intoxication. It keeps the officer and defendant honest about what happened, and it allows the jurors to evaluate the evidence for themselves rather than deciding a credibility contest between the officer and defendant…

It’s not rocket science – the officer must turn on the video recorder no later than the activation of the blue lights, and the recording must include:

  • The entire traffic stop through the person’s arrest;
  • Reading of Miranda rights;
  • All field sobriety tests;
  • The observation period in the Datamaster room; and
  • The breath test or refusal.

If the camera malfunctions or something beyond the officer’s control prevents the officer from complying with the videotape requirements, the case is not dismissed. The officer only needs to submit an affidavit that gives a valid reason for the failure to comply.

If the officer does not comply with the videotape requirements and does not have a valid justification, the case is dismissed pursuant to Rock Hill v. Suchenski and a line of later cases based on Suchenski.

What if the Officer Violated SLED Policy and Procedure?

If the officer complies with the mandatory provisions of SC DUI law (ie if the law says the officer shall or must do x,y,z), but does not follow SLED policy and procedure or violates a nonmandatory provision of the DUI law, the case is not dismissed.

Depending on the situation, however, it may result in evidence like the breathalyzer result or blood test result being suppressed at trial because they are not reliable. When breath test results are suppressed, your odds at trial start looking much better. That means your DUI may get dismissed or your prosecutor may be more likely to offer a non-DUI traffic violation.

Preparing for a DUI Trial in SC

Preparing for a DUI trial means gathering as much information as possible from as many sources as possible, analyzing that information, using it to get your case dismissed when possible, preparing pretrial motions based in part on that information, and organizing that information in a way that will be most persuasive to jurors in a trial.

Roadside Video and Datamaster Video

The prosecutor is required to provide you with a copy of both the roadside video and the Datamaster room video. If they don’t, unless there is a valid affidavit from the arresting officer, your case should be dismissed.

Those videos will show whether the officer complied with the mandatory requirements of SC DUI law or nonmandatory policies and procedures. It will also show you during the traffic stop and breath test procedure. Unless the video is suppressed, the jurors will see it at trial.

Discovery from the Prosecutor

The prosecutor will provide your attorney with all evidence that they intend to use against you. They are also required to turn over any exculpatory evidence – evidence that would tend to show you are innocent.

The “Rule 5” discovery may include:

  • Video from the roadside and Datamaster room;
  • Incident reports and supplemental incident reports;
  • Witness statements;
  • Any expert’s reports like the results of the MAIT team’s investigation after a fatal car crash; and
  • Any other evidence that the prosecutor or police have in their possession.

SLED Database

Your attorney can also pull information from SLED’s database about the breathalyzer machine and the Datamaster operator, which may include:

  • The date and type of maintenance that has been performed on the machine;
  • Any error messages that the machine has recorded;
  • The expiration date and temperature of the simulator solution; and
  • The results from other tests performed by the same Datamaster operator (often the same as the arresting officer)

Sobriety Witnesses

Any witnesses who were in the vehicle with you or who saw you before you started driving may be sobriety witnesses – if they can truthfully testify as to how much you had to drink (or didn’t have to drink) and your appearance before or while you were driving, we may take statements from them and call them to testify at your trial as a “sobriety witness.”

Other Information in a DUI Case

Depending on the facts of your case, there may be other information that needs to be obtained by discovery motion, subpoena, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, or investigation, as well as research that needs to be done on how the law applies to the facts that we discover in your case. This could include:

  • DUI blood tests;
  • Urinalysis test results;
  • Drug recognition experts (DRE); or
  • DUI checkpoints.

Pre-trial Motions in a SC DUI

So, what do we do with all this information and legal research?

If your case should be dismissed, we may share it with the prosecutor before trial and, hopefully, they will dismiss the charges. In some cases, they might offer a non-DUI traffic violation as an alternative to trial.

If they do not dismiss, we can then file pretrial motions asking the judge to either dismiss the caser or suppress certain evidence like the video or breathalyzer results.

If the prosecutor does not dismiss and your judge does not dismiss, we preserve your arguments for appeal and go on to try your case to a jury…

DUI Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC DUI defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone focuses his law practice on criminal defense and DUI defense. Because we don’t spend our time handling car wrecks or divorces, our attention is not divided between different areas of the law, we try more cases, and we feel that we are able to do a better job for our criminal and DUI defense clients.

If you have been charged with DUI, DUAC, or any DUI related offense in the Charleston, SC area, call SC criminal defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or contact us through our website to talk to a Charleston, SC DUI defense lawyer today.