February 2016 Archives

DUI Defense Strategies

While no one should ever get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired, a wrongful DUI conviction can be distressing. Not only does a drunk driving offense have major repercussions for those involved, but the legal process surrounding a DUI charge is set up to be intimidating, even if you believe that you were wrongfully accused or the arresting officer did not behave in a manner that was permissible. Legal jargon, hefty fines, and intimidation are just some of the ways in which someone, who may have a case, doesn't defend themselves. This is especially true if you are unsure of your own rights and/or believe that the evidence is stacked against you. However, there are certain strategies that will aid you in the legal process. Each DUI charge is different, but if you have reason to believe you have a strong case against the arresting officer(s) and any others involved, choosing to defend your case may be in your best interest. Many times an officer may not act accordingly or make the arrest on lawful grounds. However, the regular civilian does not know this, and, therefore, does not understand that they have a potential case. When you know your rights and the legal limitations that the officer has, you will have a better time defending your case. Examples of circumstances that can make possible DUI defenses include: Unlawful Stop Unknown to the average citizen, police cannot simply pull someone over because they think the driver is doing something unlawful. If someone is pulled over for no apparent reason, a defense can be built on the grounds that the stop was unlawful.  Violation of Rights If an officer did not read you your rights or give you the Miranda warning, any statement that you may have said cannot be held against you in the court of law. Meaning, any incriminating comments or confessions can be thrown out due to a violation of rights. Improper Testing There are only certain sobriety tests that are admissible in a court of law. Meaning, if you were given a sobriety test that wasn't one of these, or you have reason to believe that the chemical test given was malfunction, these may not be admissible in court. Necessity In extreme cases, you may be able to convince a court or judge to overlook your case if there was an absolute necessity behind your driving impaired, such as a dire medical emergency. Defense arguments that result in a reduction of your penalties and/or charges include those based on the circumstances above. Make sure you ask yourself the following questions, and hire the right attorney, to help build a strong case for court. Did the cop have probable cause to pull you over? As we said above, it is unlawful for a police officer to pull you over for no reason. To pull over a driver, the officer has to have probable cause, which can result in witnessing a traffic violation, responding to the scene of an accident or call, etc. Also, the probable cause has to be documented in the police report, and the officer has to articulate the reason for the stop in court. If there is no report and he/she cannot do so, it is possible for the DUI charges to be thrown out. Did you (the driver) fail the sobriety test? An experienced lawyer may be able to point out other reasons for a driver failing a field sobriety test that are not due to intoxication, such as a medical condition. Did the officer have permission to perform the BAC test? When an officer asks a driver to comply with a blood or Breathalyzer test, the driver can refuse. However, on the chance that the officer refuses to acknowledge the results of the test, or forces the driver to take the test, it is possible to get the test results thrown out in court. Did he/she administer the proper procedure before giving you the test? Were you (the driver) read your Miranda rights prior to the test? Even if someone admits to being drunk, or is interrogated until they give the officer the answer they want to hear, without being told your rights, you have a strong case that proper procedures were not followed.  Depending on your specific case and the circumstances that surround the case, you may be able to reduce your charges and the penalties you face, or possibly win your case. Remember, it is important to find the right support and necessary legal action to help you reach the best possible outcome. DUI charges are damaging and can follow you around for a long time after the incident. Be sure to find the right attorney who is skilled and experienced with DUI defense.

DUI Fines, Laws, and Penalties According to South Carolina Law

While no one should drive impaired, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are many laws, penalties, rumors, and beliefs that surround a DUI arrest or case. Many people take the advice of family, friends, or loved ones that have experience with an arrest. Often, however, these "truths" about what to do when you get pulled over and about your penalties are passed by word of mouth. Needless to say, this means that many times the information is inaccurate. As a law office with experience in DUI defense, we are here to set the record straight and serve as your one-stop spot for all the correct knowledge and information surround a DUI charge, including the fines, laws, and penalties. DUI Law and Number of Drinks In South Carolina, and in all states, for that matter, you are not legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of BAC higher than .08 percent. There are several exceptions, however. For those under the age of 21 (the legal age to consume alcohol in the Untied States), a BAC of .02 percent is considered illegally driving under the influence. For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04 percent or more is considered driving under the influence. Determining your BAC combines several factors. Although some may ask themselves, "How many drinks does it take to become legally drunk?" this is not an accurate way to determine if you should get behind the wheel or not. There are certain physical characteristics and other factors that determine how you metabolize alcohol. For example, personal metabolic rate, along with the rate of alcohol consumption and a person's individual weight, gender, height, and fat/muscle content all contribute the result of one's BAC. Additionally, depending on when a person blows into the test kit can play a part in the outcome. For example, a person's BAC rises as he/she digests the alcohol, meaning the levels change even after consumption. Additionally, particular medications and how much food has been eaten beforehand will change the way alcohol affects you.  Penalties The penalties surrounding a DUI offense vary according to the BAC of the driver, when they were arrested, and other circumstances, such as the ability to pay fines, number of previous offenses, and the circumstances that surround the arrest. According to DrivingLaws, here is a general guideline that can be expected in the state of South Carolina:  

Personal Injury Advice: The Claim Mistakes to Avoid

When you sustain a personal injury from a slip and fall, automobile accident, or an accident in the workplace, you will likely have the means to try a personal injury case against the offender(s). However, there are several things that you should not do, in order to receive the full compensation that you are owed. Be sure to avoid making these claim mistakes: Taking too much time to file During the time between the accident and seeking necessary medical treatment, you may find it hard to take the time to file your personal injury case; however, the sooner, the better. Make sure to consult an attorney immediately after your accident in order to receive the best possible outcome for treatment of your injuries and for compensation. Signing a release You should never sign something without first consulting with a personal injury attorney. You may unknowingly sign a release that causes all the claims to be settled, and/or an agreement that prevents you from making a personal injury case in the future. Posting on social media While you should take photos for evidence of the accident and of all your injuries, you should always refrain from posting them online or talking about any of the details of your case and injuries on your social media platforms. Anything you post can be taken into court and used against you. Even if all your accounts are set to private, be wary that the information can still be found. Just avoid online sharing at all costs. Throwing out potential evidence You should never throw out potential evidence just because you may think it is unimportant and/or minuscule. Make sure to keep all paperwork, proof of injuries, casts, pill bottles, etc. Also, be sure to document your injuries throughout the healing process. The more evidence you provide, the better chance you have of receiving your full compensation. Using your private health insurance If you were injured on the job, and have to visit the hospital or make a doctor's appointment, make sure to use your company's worker's comp rather than your own insurance plan to treat your injuries. Representing yourself Personal injury cases require an in-depth knowledge and skills of these particular cases. That's why it is in your best interest to lean on the help of a personal injury attorney. Not to mention, the right attorney will be better able to handle the claims with insurance companies, legal regulations, and other complicated regulations that are involved in these cases. Lying While you might want to lie or exaggerate your injuries in order to get a better result out of your case, this is not a good idea. This is counterproductive for your case. Instead of receiving more rewards, you might blow the chance of receiving any, causing you to go unpaid for your injuries. Always be truthful and upfront about the circumstances of the accident and the injuries you sustained. Forgetting to document the scene It's important to document as much as you can. Take photos of the scene from all angles, up close and from far away. You want to make sure your documentation will be able to show how serious the accident was, and it may help prove your injuries in the event that an insurance company tries to prevent you from receiving your full compensation by claiming you weren't seriously injured. Failing to seek medical attention While you may not think you suffered many risks from a minor slip and fall or automobile accident, you are only putting yourself at great risk by not seeking medical attention. Plus, a lot of times internal injuries aren't apparent until the condition worsens. When you don't go to the emergency room or visit a doctor, not only are you putting your body at greater risk, but you also have a chance of reducing your compensation. Ignoring symptoms While you should visit the doctor for obvious reasons, make sure that, while you are there, you inform your doctor or nurse of every possible symptom or pain you are experiencing after your accident. If you do not inform your doctor of all your symptoms, he may not prescribe you the right medication, treatment, and therapies. Plus, if all your injuries are not recorded, you likely won't get the amount of compensation that you are owed. Giving a recorded statement Be careful about what you say to insurance companies, as they are liable to take your words out of context in order to decrease your settlement and build a strong case against your claims. Be sure that all statements you give are under a controlled environment.

DUI Defense Can Include A Variety of Strategies

It is not illegal for licensed drivers over the age of 21 to drink and drive. If this statement does not sound right to you; you should understand why it is so important to have the services of a DUI attorney in the event you get charged - because that statement is 100 percent true. Let's clarify a few things. First, there is a difference between having a drink and driving, and driving drunk. Second, there is a difference between having a drink and driving, and driving impaired. Third, there is a difference between failing a blood alcohol check, driving drunk or impaired, and driving legally after having consumed alcohol. With so many variables that go into determining what can and cannot happen behind the wheel, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved, how does anyone determine what is legal or illegal? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published close to 11,000 pages of information in manuals, past and present, that delineate the procedures that must be followed during a DUI investigation. As you might imagine, not very many people, police officers included, have all of that information in their heads. Couple the vast number of procedures with the staggering number of offenses (except for your run-of-the-mill traffic violations, there are more arrests and citations for Driving Under the Influence--DUI--than for any other crime) and you arrive at the reason a DUI defense can include such a wide variety of strategies. There is simply too much happening, too many times, for mistakes to not be made--mistakes that lead to improper citations and arrests.

Law Office of
Jason S. Stevens, LLC

215 East Bay Street Suite 500-H
Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: 843-410-3953
Fax: 843-414-7240
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