Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Drunk driving checkpoint viability questioned

Most people in South Carolina have seen or heard reports of checkpoints set up by police officers to try and catch alleged drunk drivers. These checkpoints are often set up at or near key holidays like New Year's Eve or Fourth of July. They may also be established at random times. This particular method of attempting to target people for specific violations has been the subject of some debate recently in neighboring North Carolina.

At one particular driving while intoxicated checkpoint in the middle of August, a total of 15 officers staffed the area over a span of five hours. The effort resulted in one drunk driving arrest. Another 42 drivers were cited or arrested for a variety of offenses ranging from expired vehicle license tags to outstanding warrants for their arrest.

New monitoring technology being used for drunk driving

As many in South Carolina know, having a drunk driving conviction is no laughing matter. Now, in addition to the conventional punishments, some drivers are being monitored by new technologies developed to fight drunk driving.

According to KTHV, one Arkansas county is using a new app to check on repeat DWI offenders throughout the day. The app, Check BAC, uses a Bluetooth breathalyzer and requires its users to record a video of themselves while taking the breathalyzer test to be used in their monitoring. Officials say those who are in the program have to log in every three hours, and that tests can be randomly given throughout the day as well. The video is meant to show that the user is the one actually taking the test and to give officials an idea of the behavior and surroundings of the person as they take their test. If there is any alcohol detected in a user's test, the monitoring system will contact the authorities.

Don't get caught driving recklessly in South Carolina

Anyone who is driving in South Carolina must do so safely and in accordance with South Carolina laws. When you don't drive safely, there is a chance that you will get a traffic ticket. You might think that this isn't a big deal, but what you might not realize is that there are different levels to the traffic tickets and infractions that you can face in this state.

Reckless driving is a traffic violation that can lead to your having to pay fines, but the penalties go past that. In fact, you might be shocked to learn just how seriously South Carolina takes reckless driving offenses.

Harsh penalties for shoplifters in south carolina

Sometimes, life's pressing situations can leave one in desperate financial circumstances. There are many factors that drive an individual to shoplift, but some speculate that South Carolina's shoplifting laws themselves could point toward one explanation. The state's laws on shoplifting were at one time among the most lenient in the country, and lawmakers eventually began to reconsider toughening those regulations. This is a positive step for the state's retail businesses, but what could it mean for those who commit small shoplifting crimes?

WIS10 News acknowledges the history of shoplifting issues in South Carolina -- an issue that has cost retail businesses thousands over the years. According to WIS, a number of professional shoplifting rings in recent years caused legislators to reassess the state's penalties regarding the crime. At one time, South Carolina held some of the country's most lenient felony thresholds in the southeast, and WIS uses information provided by the South Carolina Retailers Association to show that one would have to steal $2,000 worth of merchandise before facing a felony in the state. Depending on the county, shoplifters could now face multiple penalties in one count, raising the maximum prison sentence for the crime to 10 years.

Jury still out on Uber's effectiveness against drunk driving

As more communities in South Carolina and across the country have ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft available, many hope that they will help to lower the rates of drunk driving on the streets in their communities. Yet studies have not proven decisive on whether or not this is the case.

As the New York Times explains, several studies have found a connection between Uber and lowered rates of drunk driving. These include studies from Tempel University, which saw an associated decrease in motor vehicle homicide after the introduction of Uber in California, and West Carolina University, which found that a reduction in fatal accidents across the country was associated with the introduction of Uber's services being introduced in new communities. No study is more emphatic than the one commissioned in 2015 by Uber in partnership with Mother's Against Drunk Driving. This found that the service's ridership was highest during peak hours for drunk driving accidents to occur and that Seattle saw 10 percent fewer drunk driving arrests after the introduction of their services. 

Shoplifting: a common crime

There are many reasons why a person may commit an offense such as shoplifting: poverty, psychological reward and peer pressure are among the most common influences. While shoplifting may never completely cease to occur, there are legal details individuals should know when facing shoplifting consequences. South Carolina is hardly exempt from such crimes, and has experienced an influx in cases in recent months. The causes may be difficult to determine, but what are the penalties and types of prevention plans? 

Live 5 News reports that South Carolina's King Street has seen a spike in shoplifting this year. A creative hub hosting tourist attractions, art galleries, food and gifts, King Street has lately become known for its high volume of shoplifters. What, many may ask, are shop owners doing to stop this trend? Many are turning to social media for help, posting what available photos they have to followers who can potentially point them toward clues on how to find shoplifters. According to Live 5, these shoplifters are not simply stealing one small item; some are taking thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in single outings. Shoplifting has occurred among both chain stores and small businesses alike.

Distracted driving hits drivers where it hurts: their wallets

The fast-paced world has many South Carolina drivers pulled in many directions, which may be why some turn to driving while distracted, either through emails, text messages or other passengers in the car. According to The State, this has drivers paying, both with higher insurance premiums, fines, and unfortunately for some, with their lives. 

More than 100 people in South Carolina died in a car crash in the past two years caused by distracted driving: 43 deaths in 2016 and 64 fatalities in 2015. These accidents caused 5,698 injuries in 2016, and insurance companies have taken note. Premiums for drivers in the Palmetto State rose an average of 8.9 percent in 2016, and national data shows rate increases of 16 percent in the last five years. These increases are in line with premium hikes across the country, but in a state that is in the top ten nationwide for deaths caused by high vehicles speeds, the addition of distracted driving on South Carolina roads could prove deadly for many. In fact, reports have found that cell phone usage is present in 64 percent of all car accidents.

Don't think a ticket is no big deal

Almost all moving violations in South Carolina have much more of an impact on your life than your just having to pay a fine. All of these violations can impact the status of your driver's license and possibly the cost of your car insurance.

There are several points you should know about traffic tickets in South Carolina. Here are some points that you might find interesting:

What is an ignition interlock device?

People in South Carolina who have been arrested for suspected drunk driving will need to learn quickly the laws and penalties that may apply to them. This will be important as they move through the defense process. As explained by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, one of the consequences for drivers who are convicted of some driving under the influence charges is the required use of an ignition interlock device.

An IID involves both a handheld breath test unit and electronic components that must be hardwired into a vehicle's system. Together, these parts keep a lock on a vehicle's ignition until a driver has successfully passed a breath test. A law was enacted in late 2014 that required the use of IIDs even for some people with only a first driving under the influence offense. In addition, these units must come with cameras to visually prove that the person taking the test is actually the driver of the vehicle.

Field sobriety test accuracy rates

Have you recently been charged with a drunk driving offense in South Carolina? Maybe you know someone who has been in this predicament and want to be able to offer support to them. In either case, one of the things you will want to learn about is the accuracy rates or lack thereof associated with the various tests used by officers.

As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, before you are asked to provide a breath sample or a blood sample, you may well have been asked to perform other tasks. Commonly referred to as field sobriety tests, these brief examinations do not in any way prove whether or not you are intoxicated. In fact, there is no way that they could actually do that as they are not scientifically able to do so. However, they are used to support the notion that you could be intoxicated and this gives an officer sufficient leverage to place you under arrest.