Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Recreational marijuana use in South Carolina can lead to trouble

Marijuana is one of the more common drugs for some college students. For those in South Carolina, using marijuana for recreational purposes can lead to criminal charges. This state has opted not to pass laws decriminalizing the drug, despite many other states opting to.

Understanding some of the laws governing the drug might help those who are tempted to use it, as well as those who are currently facing criminal charges. The exact penalties you can face depend on the circumstances of the drug charges.

Reviewing some consequences of underage DUI charges

When someone finds themselves in court over drunk driving, they may be unsure of how the charges will affect their future. There are many consequences associated with DUI charges and each person's situation is unique. For some people, such as those who have been charged with driving under the influence previously and teenagers who have not reached the legal drinking age, there are additional considerations. Underage drunk driving charges can be disastrous with regard to a young person's future and they can also bring a great deal of stress into a family.

If you have been accused of driving under the influence and you are a minor, it is important to be aware of how these charges could impact you. For example, they could be problematic with respect to your job or future employability. These charges could also create challenges for you with regard to college and they could have a negative impact on your performance in school. Moreover, you may find that you encounter problems with some of your friends and family members due to these allegations.

Breath test responsibilities on law enforcement

If you are one of the many responsible citizens of South Carolina who has ever been questioned by law enforcement about potential drunk driving, you may well have been asked to submit to a breath test. The state does have what is called an implied consent law which means that anyone who accepts a driver's license in essence agrees to provide a breath sample when requested. However, this does not mean that every breath test is completely accurate or that a result over the 0.08 percent legal limit guarantees you will be convicted of driving under the influence. 

As explained by the South Carolina Code of Laws, law enforcement officials and departments in the state have several responsibilities when it comes to the process of and equipment used in breath test collection and measurement for DUI cases. While the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, also referred to as SLED, has the right to select the products used in breath tests it is also required to maintain the equipment.

Substance testing for commercial drivers

People who live and work in South Carolina know that the state has some very tough laws in place regarding driving a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Most of the laws people are aware of pertain to individuals driving with standard licenses. When it comes to truckers and others with commercial driving licenses, there is an even greater level of oversight that everyone holding a CDL in South Carolina should be aware of.

At the state level, the Department of Motor Vehicles requires that any company employing drivers with commercial driving licenses provide reporting to the state of select substance testing results or other activities. Specifically, if a driver fails a test or is believed to have in some way tampered with a test or its sample, that information must be reported. Similarly, the refusal of a driver to submit to a drug or alcohol test must be reported.

Understanding the uniform traffic ticket

If you are like a lot of people in South Carolina, you might assume that a traffic ticket is only issued to people when they have allegedly violated a traffic law. While certainly this may be one instance when a traffic ticket is issued, it is actually not the only one.

As explained by the South Carolina Legislature, there is a specific type of ticket called a uniform traffic ticket that has many different uses. In addition to violations like speeding, driving without insurance or some other vehicle-related violation, the uniform traffic ticket may be given to people who are accused of scalping tickets, leaving trash along a side of a highway, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Drugged driving is just as bad as drunk driving

Impaired driving in all forms is dangerous and illegal. When drivers are behind the wheels of their vehicles, they need to be able to react if there is anything that requires their attention. It is difficult to impossible to do this if you are impaired. Many people don't realize that you don't have to use illegal drugs to drive impaired.

When you are accused of this type of incident, you are facing a difficult road. You can't claim that you didn't know about impaired driving laws when you decided to drive so you need to look beyond that point. Here are some important things to remember about drugged driving:

South Carolina's point-based driving record system

If you have ever been stopped by a police officer in South Carolina and received a traffic ticket, you are far from alone. Many people are issued citations for everything ranging from speeding to rolling stops to failing to use a turn signal and more. In many situations, these things are almost treated as normal events that just happen and while they may be annoying and costly are not always considered seriously.

Certainly a basic traffic ticket is not as serious as a felony criminal charge, for example, but amassing too many citations may end up finding you being notified that you have lost your right to drive. That is because every ticket you receive adds a certain number of points onto your driving record. According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, once you have reached six points on your record, you will get a warning. Add another six and your license could be suspended.

Legality of police entry in raids questioned

People in South Carolina know that despite growing concerns about an opioid epidemic and other drug addition and abuse issues, there can still be a strong contingent of people who seem to revel in stories of officers coming down hard on defendants suspected of being involved in illegal drug activity. This group of people and others, however, should be aware that regardless of a situation, officers are supposed to follow the law when it comes to searching and entering a personal residence.

Concerns that some law enforcement units in the state have developed a pattern of ignoring what would be the law and instead essentially conducting illegal entry and searches are at the heart of an ongoing legal battle per The Washington Post. The case dates back to an incident in Myrtle Beach in 2015 when a group of task force members allegedly announced their presence and entry into a man's home before storming in and opening fire on him, leaving him with permanent injuries that will bar him from walking and more for the rest of his life.

DUI vs. DUAC

The number .08 holds significance for many in Florence. That is the blood-alcohol concentration that is almost universally accepted as the standard for determining whether one is legally drunk. Like many of those that we here at the Parham Law Firm, LLC have worked with in the past, you probably assume that if that number is associated with your name, a DUI charge is forthcoming. South Carolina, however, is unique from several other states in the fact that the .08 BAC level is not exclusively associated with DUI. 

As a matter of fact, that number does not even officially correlate to the state's actual DUI law. Rather, the .08 BAC concentration is linked to another charge: Driving With Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. Per Section 56-5-2933 of South Carolina's Code of Laws, a charge of DUAC can only be brought if the prosecution has proof that you registered a BAC reading of .08 or more. Furthermore, a DUAC charge cannot arise from a stop at a drivers' license checkpoint or a police roadblock. Rather, the law enforcement officer that arrests you has to have had probable cause to stop you for suspicion of DUI. The test that yielded your .08 BAC reading must also have been administered within two hours of your arrest for you to be charged with DUAC. 

The price to pay after a shoplifting charge

Many South Carolina residents might agree that crimes related to shoplifting pale in comparison to more serious offenses. Nevertheless, those caught stealing often face serious repercussions. One point of debate surrounding shoplifting involves the penalties that come with them -- have they been too strict in the past? 

The Pew Charitable Trusts delves into the topic of shoplifting in South Carolina, and what some lawmakers have done about the severe penalties attached to these nonviolent crimes. In 2010, South Carolina increased its threshold in regard to felony theft and made changes to its penalties surrounding property crimes. While some are quick to criticize these modifications, The Pew points out that they have freed up space in prisons for inmates convicted of more serious crimes. Changes were also necessary in order to keep up with inflation and the value of stolen products. The Pew refers to an April 2017 study, which showed that the widened threshold did not result in increased incidents of theft.