Mount Pleasant South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

Understanding DUI penalties in South Carolina

South Carolina motorists who have been charged with drunk driving may face serious penalties. A conviction can lead to people losing their driver's licenses. Even a temporary suspension can mean that people may lose their jobs, and they may find themselves unable to keep up with school or family obligations. It is important to fully understand the laws in order for people to best protect themselves. When people are convicted of a first offense, they could be fined up to $992 and face a six-month suspension of their license. For later offenses, the penalties become even more severe.

A second drunk driving offense could lead to a fine of up to $10,744 with all penalties and assessments included, suspension of a driver's license for one year and imprisonment from five days to one full year. A third offense means at least a two-year license suspension, imprisonment and even steeper fines. If the third offense occurs within five years of the first offense, the license is suspended for four years; in addition, if the driver was the owner of the vehicle, it will be confiscated by the police. Later offenses lead to a permanent revocation of a driver's license and a prison term of at least one year.

How much can a first-time DUI conviction cost?

Driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can be costly, for you and everyone else on the road. A drunk-driving conviction can add up to thousands of dollars in fines and court costs plus other expenses, including increased insurance premiums.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, South Carolina ranks second in drunk driving deaths in the United States, with only Wyoming having more fatalities related to driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Sometimes plea bargaining is where the magic happens

Many imagine being accused of a crime as a lonely suspect are thrown in a cell with no discussion. Or they see a TV courtroom with surprise confessions on the witness stand and a judge who always seems to “allow” everything “this time.”

The truth is that most cases end in plea bargains. Judges and prosecutors often prefer them, and defendants backed by an experienced defense attorney sometimes get better outcomes than they had imagined possible when they were arrested.

The legal implications of the dark web

The dark web is an encrypted portion of the internet that can only be reached by those who have access to the Tor browser. Typically, it is used by those in South Carolina and elsewhere who are looking to purchase controlled substances or engage in other illegal activities. Transactions are often conducted using Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency. However, is generally not illegal simply to access this portion of the internet.

In some cases, it can be used as a means of skirting media bans in authoritarian countries or as a way for whistleblowers to share information. It is also important to note that making a purchase using Bitcoin is not illegal on its own. Common types of illegal transactions that occur on encrypted web sites include murders for hire, extortion and illicit arms deals. As these transactions occur on encrypted sites, it may be difficult for authorities to prove that a specific person engaged in a criminal activity.

A roadside breath test may be refused

South Carolina has vigorously promoted a zero-tolerance approach to DUI, and while everyone has a shared interest in roadway safety, there are legal issues to consider when police agencies ramp up their law enforcement efforts. Initially, it must be recognized that for most drivers, it is not illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system but only if their blood alcohol content is greater than 0.08. Often, a more salient legal issue is the manner in which the police stop the suspected drunk driver and the justification for it.

In many instances, when the police suspect a driver of DUI, a stop is conducted ostensibly for some other reason, such as a traffic stop for a minor violation or equipment failure such as a broken light. If there is no pretense for the stop and it is based solely on DUI, the police must have some articulable suspicion that the driver was in fact under the influence. DUI experts may explain that this is a lower legal standard than the probable cause that is required for an arrest.

How to spot a catfishing scam

Catfishing can be more than gathering the main course for your dinner. When someone catfishes you, they usually do so by creating a fake online identity, complete with a false alias and pictures. These criminals often target people looking for romance and defraud their victims out of money.

The FBI reported that these scams resulted in losses of over $230 million in 2016. No one likes having someone deceive them, but no one likes becoming a victim of fraud even more. Fortunately, the FBI has also conducted research on catfishing scams and identified ways for you to identify a con before it’s too late.

Men sentenced in cocaine-related charges

A 31-year-old man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison by a federal court in South Carolina on drug-related charges. He will then have five years of supervised release. The federal system does not allow for parole. The man also agreed to forfeiture of several pieces of property, including jewelry, two vehicles and $500,000.

Several months earlier, the man pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine. According to law enforcement, the man led a cocaine trafficking organization that involved getting cocaine from Atlanta, distributing it and collecting proceeds. Furthermore, law enforcement said the man maintained his status through various means, including intimidation and violence. As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, heroin, guns, vehicles, jewelry and cash.

Five most common computer crimes

Computer crime encompasses a wide range of criminal activity that is done through digital technology. Cybercrime is a growing threat to U.S. citizens. Last year, 71% of U.S. citizens reported that they were afraid of falling victim to cybercrime and nearly 30% were affected by data breaches.

In order to help keep your data safe, note the top five most common crimes.

Identity theft and the law

Some South Carolina residents might have experienced identity theft when another person stole their credit card data, Social Security number, or other information. With this kind of information, it is possible to apply for credit cards or take other actions using another person's identity.

In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which made identity theft a federal crime. One of the cases that influenced Congress in this was a man who ran up more than $100,000 in credit card debt in someone else's name. The man also got a federal home loan and purchased houses, handguns and more. He paid no restitution and was only briefly incarcerated for the crime of making a false statement in order to get a firearm.

What pre-trial motions might accomplish

Before a DUI case goes to trial in South Carolina or anywhere else, a pre-trial motion may be considered by a judge. The motion may ask that certain evidence be suppressed or cover any other concerns that an attorney may have. In some cases, a request will be made to drop the matter altogether. The prosecution in a DUI case can also make motions before a trial to limit the type of evidence that can be introduced at trial.

An attorney could ask that evidence be excluded because a defendant wasn't read his or her rights prior to it being discovered. An exclusion request could also be made on grounds that a test was performed improperly or that a search was performed illegally. If a defendant has had previous DUI convictions, the penalties for a subsequent conviction could be increased.

    1. Charleston County | Bar Association
    2. South Carolina Association of criminal Defense Lawyers
    3. Rated By Super Lawyers | Rising Stars | Cameron J.Blazer | Superlawyers.com
    4. South Carolina Bar
    5. Liberty Fellowship
    1. Aspen Global Leadership Network | The Aspen Institute
    2. Justice 360 | Advancing Equality in the justice System
    3. Jefferson Awards Foundation
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