Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm

DUI Overview

When it comes to tackling the intricacies of DUI cases in South Carolina, look no further than Thompson & Hiller as your trusted advocates. Armed with years of focused experience in South Carolina DUI law, we deliver unmatched legal representation across the spectrum of DUI-related issues. From first-time offenses to aggravated DUI cases involving additional complexities, our devoted team is steadfast in crafting personalized legal solutions uniquely designed for the circumstances of each client. Opt for Thompson & Hiller for your DUI defense in South Carolina, and benefit from the unparalleled knowledge that tilts the scales of justice to your advantage.

Initial Consultation

Attorney meets with the client to discuss the details of the case

Investigation & Evidence Gathering

Collecting all relevant evidence, talking to witnesses, and reviewing police reports and other documents

Pre-Trial & Negotiations

Defense can negotiate with the prosecution for plea deals or even get some charges dropped

Trial & Beyond

Defense attorney represents the client in court, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making closing arguments

1st, 2nd, 3rd Offense


Breath Tests

Legal Ramifications

Blood Tests

Field Sobriety

DMV Hearings

Open Container Laws

State v. K.C., February 2021: K.C. was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The charge was dismissed before trial

State v. K.Y., January 2018: K.Y. was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) 2nd offense in Myrtle Beach. The charge was remanded as a DUI 1st offense at the preliminary hearing. Once remanded, the charge was dismissed before trial

State v. P.D., May 2016: P.D. was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) four times within a year. Three out of the four DUIs were dismissed

State v. S.T., March 2015: S.T. was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Myrtle Beach. The charge was dismissed before trial

What Are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction in South Carolina?

How Can Thompson & Hiller Help Fight My DUI Charges?

What Is the Legal Blood Alcohol Limit for DUI in South Carolina?

What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI in South Carolina?

How Does a DUI Arrest Affect My Driving Record and Insurance?

Understanding DUI Laws in South Carolina: Your Comprehensive Guide by Thompson & Hiller

Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina can be a daunting experience. The legal landscape surrounding DUI is intricate, involving complex issues like alcohol testing science, field sobriety tests, and the impact of medications or illnesses. Thompson & Hiller, your trusted South Carolina DUI attorneys, are here to demystify this complicated area of law for you.

Types of DUI Charges in South Carolina

Navigating the maze of DUI laws in South Carolina can be overwhelming. Understanding the different types of DUI charges, their respective penalties, and potential defenses is crucial for anyone facing such a situation. Thompson & Hiller, your go-to DUI attorneys in South Carolina, are here to break it down for you.

Traditional DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

What is it? This is the most common form of DUI, where you’re charged for driving while impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs.

Penalty: For a first offense, you could face a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to 30 days. Subsequent offenses carry steeper penalties, including mandatory jail time.

Defense: Challenging the accuracy of field sobriety tests or breathalyzer results is a common defense. Expert testimony can also be used to question the level of impairment.

DUAC (Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration)

What is it? This is South Carolina’s per-se statute, meaning you can be convicted based solely on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, even if you don’t appear impaired.

Penalty: Similar to traditional DUI, penalties can range from fines to jail time, depending on the number of prior offenses.

Defense: Defenses often involve questioning the accuracy or legality of the BAC test. Calibration errors in the breathalyzer can also be a strong defense point.

Felony DUI

What is it? This charge involves DUI incidents that result in great bodily injury or death to another person.

Penalty: Convictions can lead to imprisonment for up to 25 years and fines up to $25,000, depending on the severity of the injury or if death occurred.

Defense: Defenses may include challenging the causation between the DUI and the injury or death. Expert accident reconstruction can be crucial.

Zero Tolerance Law for Minors

What is it? This applies to drivers under the age of 21 and involves any detectable amount of alcohol.

Penalty: A first offense usually results in a six-month license suspension and may include participation in an alcohol prevention education program.

Defense: Defenses can include challenging the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of the alcohol detection methods used.

Key Components of Effective DUI Defense in South Carolina by Thompson & Hiller

Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina can be a life-altering experience. The legal complexities and potential penalties make it crucial to have an effective defense strategy. At Thompson & Hiller, we are skilled in DUI defense and are committed to providing you with the best possible outcome. Here are the key components of an effective DUI defense in South Carolina:

Independent Investigation

What is it? An independent investigation involves gathering all available evidence to challenge the prosecution’s case. This includes reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, and collecting any other relevant data.

Why is it Important? Law enforcement agencies can make mistakes. An independent investigation can uncover errors or inconsistencies in the police report, faulty breathalyzer equipment, or even bias in the arrest process.

How Thompson & Hiller Can Help: We have a network of experts, including forensic toxicologists and field sobriety test instructors, who can help challenge the evidence against you. We leave no stone unturned in our quest for the truth.

Pretrial Motions

What are they? Pretrial motions are legal requests made before the trial begins. These can include motions to suppress evidence, dismiss charges, or request a change of venue.

Why are they Important? Successful pretrial motions can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case. For example, if evidence was obtained illegally, a motion to suppress can prevent it from being used against you in court.

Jury Trials

What are they? If your case goes to trial, a jury will be responsible for determining your guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented.

Why are they Important? Jury trials offer the opportunity to challenge the prosecution’s case in a public forum. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and they must convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of your guilt.

Common Defenses to South Carolina DUI Charges

Being charged with a DUI in South Carolina can be a daunting experience, but it’s crucial to remember that a charge is not a conviction. At Thompson & Hiller, we are trained in DUI defense and have successfully employed a variety of strategies to defend our clients. Here are some common defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina:

Suchenski Violations

What Are They? South Carolina’s DUI laws mandate specific procedures, including videotaping field sobriety tests and reading Miranda rights on camera. Failure to comply with these requirements is known as a Suchenski violation.

How Can It Help Your Case? If the arresting officer failed to adhere to these guidelines, your case could be dismissed before even going to trial.

Violations of Policy and Procedure

What Are They? Law enforcement agencies must adhere to specific policies and procedures when administering breathalyzer tests, blood tests, and other evidence collection methods.

How Can It Help Your Case? If the officer did not follow the correct procedures, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible, weakening the prosecution’s case against you.

“I Wasn’t Driving” Defense

What Is It? In South Carolina, you must be proven to have been driving the vehicle to be convicted of DUI. Simply being in the car is not enough.

How Can It Help Your Case? If it can be proven that you were not operating the vehicle, the DUI charge against you may be dropped.

“I Wasn’t Drunk” Defense

What Is It? The prosecution must prove that your ability to drive was materially and appreciably impaired. If they can’t, you may not be guilty of DUI.

How Can It Help Your Case? Expert testimony can challenge the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood test results, potentially leading to a not guilty verdict.

Understanding the Elements of a DUI Case in South Carolina

Understanding the elements involved can empower you. At Thompson & Hiller, we are skilled in  DUI defense and are here to guide you through the complexities of South Carolina DUI laws. Here’s what you need to know:

Traditional DUI in South Carolina

What the State Must Prove:

  • You were operating a vehicle.

  • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Your ability to drive was significantly impaired.

If the prosecution fails to prove any of these elements, you could be found not guilty.

Types of Evidence Used

  • Breathalyzer results

  • Field sobriety test outcomes

  • Witness observations

  • Police officer’s account of your driving behavior

  • Any statements you made to law enforcement

South Carolina’s DUAC (Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration)

What the State Must Prove

  • You were driving.

  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded .08.

How to Defend Against DUAC

Even if charged under this statute, you can still challenge the test results. Proper procedures must be followed for the test to be valid.

Felony DUI in South Carolina

What the State Must Prove

  • You were under the influence while driving.

  • You committed an unlawful act or neglected a legal duty while driving.

  • Your actions led to severe injury or death.

Why Felony DUI is Different

  • Increased media scrutiny

  • Pressure from victims or their families for harsh sentencing

  • More stringent proof requirements

  • Almost guaranteed prison time upon conviction

Common Types of Evidence in South Carolina DUI Trials

  • Breathalyzer Tests: The most frequently used method to measure BAC.

  • Field Sobriety Tests: Includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, one-legged stand test, and walk-and-turn test.

  • Videotape Evidence: Mandatory in South Carolina, these videos can be crucial in your defense.

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