Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Will your DUI charge hold up in court?

South Carolina residents who are arrested for drinking and driving will likely face the possibility of damaging penalties. At Parham Law Firm, LLC, we work to help prove whether or not your arrest and subsequent charges will hold up in court.

Many people, perhaps including you, may not be aware of the fact that DUI-related arrests actually have to follow somewhat specific criteria. In fact, there are two common mistakes that police officers make when making DUI arrests: illegal searches, and illegal stops.

An MIP may be more serious than you think

As a young college student, it is hard to avoid situations where alcohol is present. It seems like every other night someone is throwing a party somewhere close to campus. You might think that having a few beers will not hurt anything. But, what if a Charleston police officer breaks up the party and starts checking IDs?

If you are under the legal drinking age and a police officer catches you with alcohol, you could face some serious charges. Not only is a minor in possession charge expensive, but a conviction might affect your federal student aid and the university might suspend you for violating the student code of conduct.

Legalized medical pot on the table in South Carolina

Across the United States, many individual states have allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes for some time now. A few other states have even legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Thus far in South Carolina, there are no legally recognized uses for marijuana. However, this is something that may change if one State Senator is able to be successful in getting a bill passed and enacted.

The Republican senator has teamed up with other lawmakers representing both major political parties to sponsor a bill that would legalize the use of pot for medical purposes. If passed, the new law would not provide a carte blanche on pot use but would come with clearly defined criteria for its use. Among this criteria may be a list of qualifying medical conditions that a patient must have in order to be allowed to use the drug legally.

When prescription medications could result in a DUI

Almost everyone has to take a prescription medication at some point during his or her lifetime. Whether a drug is prescribed for the short or long term, it may have the potential to adversely affect driving. A driver in South Carolina may have never gotten behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs, but could possibly face a DUI charge after being prescribed perfectly legal medications.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some medications can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time. Prescription painkillers in particular have been cited as a factor in many crashes. Often, people who are taking a prescribed drug might also drink alcohol, without realizing that mixing the medication with alcohol can create pronounced effects or last significantly longer than using alcohol alone.

State pushing for stronger phone laws

Through the holiday season and especially over the New Year's Eve holiday celebration time in South Carolina, much attention is given to alternatives to drinking and driving. The dangers associated with getting behind the wheel of a car even if a person has had only one alcoholic beverage have been known for a long time. Sadly many people keep making the dangerous choice to grab their keys after a drink or two. Similarly, too many people refuse to put down their phones while they drive.

It has been more than three years since South Carolina enacted a law which put a strict ban on texting while actively driving. In that time, close to 3,000 tickets have been handed out for texting while driving. It is not known how many other drivers have engaged in this behavior but simply have not been caught. In 2017 alone it is estimated that almost 1,500 distracted driving tickets have been written by law enforcement officers.

Consequences of underage drinking and driving

Teenagers may not always think about the ramifications of drunk driving. It is important for them to understand, though, that teenagers in South Carolina are subject to zero tolerance laws and that receiving an underage DUI can have serious consequences.

Teenagers do not need to have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent to get a DUI. FindLaw says that under zero tolerance laws, teenagers are considered drunk when they have a BAC of 0.02 percent. These laws are intended to keep adolescents safe on the road and can sometimes decrease fatal accidents involving teenagers which occur at night by 20 percent. When a teenager is pulled over while driving, law enforcement typically does not need to demonstrate the driver is drunk. A BAC level above 0.02 percent is enough for young drivers to be given a DUI.

Did that camera at the stoplight take my picture?

As you've driven through intersections in South Carolina, you've likely noticed before that there are cameras pointing down at the traffic. But do you know what they're for, or how they work? You might be surprised to know that not every camera at a traffic light takes your picture.

In fact, most of them don't. Most of the cameras that you see at intersections are actually traffic monitoring cameras, which aren't equipped to take your picture and don't even record footage due to their minimalistic design. They simply don't have the memory to do these things. Their only purpose is to monitor the flow of traffic and change the lights from red to green and vice versa as traffic stacks up.

A drug conviction can throw a wrench in your financial aid

There are certain criminal convictions that can damage your student financial aid. For example, a drug charge can seriously cost you when it comes to applying for federal loans to pay for tuition. Such a conviction can completely derail your academic career, especially if your university suspends you in addition to federal lenders denying your loan applications.

If a court in the Florence area has charged you with a drug crime and you are a student, your school year could be at risk if you receive a conviction. To find out more about how a drug conviction affects student aid, read further.

What kinds of prescriptions drugs are abused?

You may often associate addiction with illegal drugs. You can easily become addicted to prescription drugs, though. A previous blog discussed the hazards of abusing prescription drugs. This week's blog will focus on the kinds of drugs which are most often abused.

One class of drugs that is frequently abused is prescription opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that this kind of drug can be abused because it sometimes makes people experience euphoria. A prescription opioid might be called Codeine or Hydrocodone and you may receive this drug in the form of a liquid or a tablet. This prescription drug can be particularly dangerous if you mix it with alcohol, as your breathing and heart rate may sometimes slow down. As you go through withdrawal from a prescription opioid addiction, you might experience vomiting, restlessness and insomnia. You may sometimes be able to overcome this addiction with behavioral therapy or with a medication.

Obesity and field sobriety tests

Most people in South Carolina have likely heard or read headlines and stories about the problem of obesity facing our nation. In addition to concerns about people's health if they are overweight, there may also be concerns when it comes to criminal charges involving drunk driving. If you are carrying some extra pounds and are one of the many drivers who grabs a beer after work or enjoys a glass of wine when out to dinner and then drives home, you should learn about this.

As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, a drunk driving arrest investigation generally includes an officer administering tests at the location where you have been stopped. These tests are not meant or are not even able to prove that you are intoxicated but are instead meant to arm the officer with sufficient levels of evidence to support them placing you under arrest. Your body weight alone may be the reason you are unable to pass these tests, leading you to be arrested incorrectly.