Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Alleged hit and run may affect S.C. reality star's custody case

A hit-and-run accident in South Carolina may result in either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Though less serious than a felony, a misdemeanor can nevertheless carry serious legal consequences. For example, the star of a popular reality TV program may lose custody of her children in a court battle with her ex-boyfriend due to a video purportedly showing her crashing into a parked vehicle with her car, then leaving the scene of the accident without alerting authorities or leaving insurance information for the owner of the other automobile. 

Penalties for a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina can include up to $25,000 in fines and imprisonment for a span of time ranging from 30 days to 25 years, depending on the severity of the offense. In this case, the star's ex-boyfriend claims that the alleged incident, recorded in a security video reportedly filed in court, reflects a gross lack of integrity and character, rendering her an unsuitable parent to their two children. 

New Year's Eve checkpoint yields three arrests

People all across South Carolina are likely familiar with sobriety checkpoints. These are commonly held by law enforcement agencies over key holiday periods throughout the year. These holidays may include Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve. The goal of these checkpoints may well appear to motorists to garner as many arrests for suspected drunk driving as possible. 

What happens at a drunk driving checkpoint is not necessarily always clear. One report by SCNow.com provides some information about one checkpoint held this past New Year's Eve in Florence County. Few details are given about exactly what officers ask drivers or what may lead them to believe that a driver is impaired, prompting them to request a driver to take field sobriety tests or to provide a breath or blood sample. 

What criminal charges will impact LIFE Scholarship eligibility?

College is prohibitively expensive for many young people. They may not be able to work the kind of jobs that provide sufficient money to cover college tuition costs. Their parents may also not have enough expendable income to contribute substantially toward the cost of college. That could leave many gifted young people unable to further their own ambitions in life.

Thankfully, South Carolina's Commission on Higher Education has a scholarship program intended to help qualified students. The Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship helps students at many different public and independent universities and colleges across the state. This program can help pay for a one-year program, a first associate's, two-year, baccalaureate or professional degree.

South Carolina tops southeast states in drunk driving deaths

A study drawing from 2017 data, which were the most recent available, shows that South Carolina ranks number two in the nation for drunk driving deaths, second only to Wyoming, and number one in the southeastern region with 6.22 deaths resulting from impaired driving per 100,000 people. The only other state in the Southeast ranked in the top five was Alabama. North Dakota and New Mexico occupied the third and fourth spots, respectively.

There is, however, some good news for those states ranked in the top five for drunk driving deaths: as of 2017, four of the five states, including South Carolina, saw a decrease in drunk driving deaths from the previous year. The only state in the top five not to see a decrease was Wyoming. 

Drunk driving targeted with new law in Utah

Residents in South Carolina know and understand that driving a vehicle while intoxicated is not only illegal but is also dangerous and irresponsible. There are clear laws in place designed to prevent such behaviors. This, however, does not mean that every person who enjoys a casual drink or two and then drives a vehicle is negligent, careless or a habitual drunk.

In South Carolina, a person may be arrested for and charged with a drunk driving offense if they have a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent. For more than 20 years now, this limit has been recognized as the standard across all states in the nation. It acknowledges that social drinking is an acceptable and normal part of life for many Americans yet provides some framework intended to protect people from unnecessary hazards.

Driving under the influence of prescription medications

South Carolina, like all the other states in the Union, has strict laws against drunk driving and drugged driving. While most people think of drugged driving as driving under the influence of illicit drugs, drugged driving often involves the use of prescribed medications. In fact, according to DrugAbuse.gov, prescription drugs are responsible for more fatal drugged driving crashes (47 percent) than marijuana, which account for 37 percent of drugged driving accidents, and cocaine, which account for just 10 percent.

Though it is difficult to determine how many drugged drivers cause car accidents, the paper reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of drivers killed in car crashes had at least one medication in their system. Later findings showed that 11 percent of deadly car accidents involved a drugged driver.

Your health and field sobriety tests

If you have been stopped by officers in South Carolina and eventually questioned for potentially being intoxicated while driving, you will know just how scary this experience can be. During the investigation, you might have been asked to perform certain tests that involved you standing on one leg or walking in a specific pattern per the officer's instructions. According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, the results of these tests can be used to support arresting you and charging you with a drunk driving offense.

It is important for you to know that these tests are not completely accurate. In fact, many health conditions can interfere with your ability to successfully pass them. The eye test measures an involuntary jerking motion of your eyeball that is said to be exaggerated after a person has consumed alcohol. Some neurological conditions may also produce this result.

Could your kratom use land you in jail in South Carolina?

To listen to the companies that manufacture it, you would think that kratom is some wonder drug meant to cure all ills. To be sure, there do appear to be legitimate medicinal uses for the drug.

However, that hardly indicates that it is harmless to all users. But putting aside the potential dangers of ingesting the powdered leaves of this plant that's indigenous to Southeast Asia, what do the laws of our state have to say about kratom usage?

Facing drug charges, S.C. school administrator placed on leave

Even respected individuals within a South Carolina community may face criminal charges related to drugs. Citizens of Richland County, South Carolina recently received a reminder of that fact as authorities have arrested an assistant principal at the school on multiple drug charges. 

Following a tip received last Tuesday, law enforcement conducted a two-day investigation of the 29-year-old man's home. Upon discovering that the assistant principal was in possession of controlled substances, authorities arrested him. 

Understanding South Carolina's expungement guidelines

Many in Florence may subscribe to the common misconception that misdemeanor offenses are not serious. In reality, such a conviction can follow one around as part of their public record, potentially interfering with their ability to find a job or secure housing. The limitations and stigma that a previous conviction can place on people may make moving on with one's life that much more difficult. Allowing one the opportunity to have their record cleared of a conviction assists in them successfully reintegrating themselves into society. 

That opportunity is available through expungement, yet having a record expunged is not available to all. Only certain types of misdemeanor convictions qualify. According to the South Carolina Judicial Department, these include: 

  • A first-time misdemeanor conviction for writing a fraudulent check
  • A first-time conviction for possession of marijuana (or certain other controlled substances)
  • A first-time conviction for failing to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle