DUI and Related Offenses
DUI is a commonly charged criminal offense in South Carolina. While a first offense DUI is almost always handled in our magistrate or municipal courts, it can carry some serious consequences. In addition to steep fines and possible jail time, a first offense DUI conviction can result in a license suspension and other driving consequences, required alcohol counseling, travel restrictions, scholarship issues, insurance and employment consequences, and a criminal history.
In South Carolina, it is against the law to drink and drive while you are “materially and appreciably impaired” by alcohol and/or drugs (this includes legal medications). The statute, in pertinent part, states:
It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired, under the influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired, or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence . . .
There is a legal presumption in South Carolina (which can be rebutted) that if you drive with an alcohol concentration of .08 or above, you are impaired. Arrests for DUI in South Carolina generally follow either a traffic stop or a motor vehicle accident that does not involve death or serious bodily injury. Keep in mind that most admissions made by the driver, such as alcohol consumption or even the fact of driving, can be used as evidence against the driver in court. Most DUI cases involve the officer requesting that the driver perform standard field sobriety tests. If the officer subjectively determines that a driver is “under the influence” of alcohol and/or drugs, the officer will likely place the driver under arrest for DUI or a similar offense. Unless the driver is taken to the hospital for safety or emergency reasons (such as following an accident), the officer will take the driver to a room where the driver will be offered a breath test (a/k/a “DataMaster”). The sample offered can be critical evidence in a DUI prosecution. If the driver refuses to provide a sample or if the datamaster sample is .15 or above, the officer can suspend the driver’s privileges to drive in South Carolina for a period of time. See How to Request an Administrative Hearing.
In addition to his decades long experience handling and trying DUI cases, Joe McCulloch has received specific training on the Datamaster DMT (the breathalyzer used in South Carolina). Moreover, he has received advanced training on standard field sobriety tests and drug recognition. He frequently lectures on DUI defense and is a founding member and past president of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Joe McCulloch and Kathy (“Kat”) Schillaci both attend yearly seminars on the latest in DUI defense and frequently represent persons accused of DUI and other criminal charges in Lexington, Richland and nearby counties. There is no charge for an initial consultation.