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Top Defenses Against DUI Charges in South Carolina

Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina can be intimidating, but being informed about your defense options is crucial. This blog explores the most effective defenses against DUI charges in the state, providing insight into how these legal strategies can be applied, backed by current legal standards and scholarly resources.

1. Challenging the Traffic Stop

One primary defense against a DUI charge begins right at the traffic stop. Law enforcement must have a valid reason, known as “reasonable suspicion,” to stop your vehicle. If an attorney can demonstrate that the stop was unjustified or that the officer lacked a legitimate reason for the initial stop, evidence obtained during the stop can potentially be excluded from the case.

Reference: Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) established the standards for reasonable suspicion, requiring specific and articulable facts to justify a stop.

2. Accuracy of Breathalyzer Tests

Another common defense revolves around the breathalyzer test. The accuracy of these devices depends on proper calibration and maintenance, as well as correct administration of the test. If any of these elements can be called into question, the results of the breath test may be deemed unreliable.

Reference: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlines specific protocols for the maintenance and operation of breathalyzer devices which can be crucial in a defense strategy.

3. Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are another area ripe for defense. These tests are subjective and rely heavily on the officer’s interpretation. Factors such as uneven road surfaces, medical conditions, or even footwear can impact performance. An effective defense might argue that these external factors influenced the results of the sobriety test.

Reference: Research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences highlights the variability in individual performance on standard field sobriety tests under different conditions.

4. Rising Blood Alcohol Concentration

The defense of rising blood alcohol concentration (BAC) argues that a defendant’s BAC was below the legal limit while driving but increased between the time of driving and the administration of the breath test. This can occur because alcohol takes time to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Reference: The concept of rising BAC is supported by pharmacokinetic studies that analyze how alcohol is absorbed and metabolized in the body, such as those found in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

5. Improper Police Procedures

A defense may also focus on any procedural errors made during the arrest. This can include the failure to read Miranda rights, improper handling of the chemical tests, or any form of bias in the administration of tests. Proving procedural errors can lead to evidence being dismissed or the case being dropped altogether.

Reference: Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) mandates that individuals must be informed of their rights upon arrest, a foundational element in protecting against self-incrimination.


Navigating a DUI charge in South Carolina requires a nuanced understanding of both legal precedents and the science behind DUI testing. At Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm, we employ a detailed approach to each case, considering all possible defenses to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s essential to consult with a defense team that understands the complexities of DUI law and can effectively leverage this knowledge in your favor.

For anyone dealing with DUI charges in South Carolina, knowing these defenses and discussing them with your legal team is crucial. Contact Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm today to explore how these defenses can be strategically applied in your case. Let us help you navigate this challenging time with thorough preparation and dedicated legal representation