Driving under the influence of drugs (DUI drugs) is a criminal offense under South Carolina law. While the police can’t use breathalyzers to test drivers for drug impairment, they can test drivers through other means, and an arrest for DUI drugs can easily lead to a conviction if you do not defend yourself by all means available.
10 Important Fact about Facing a DUI Drugs Charge in North Charleston
If you face a DUI drug charge, you need to make sure you know your rights, and you need to make sure you understand what defenses you have (and don’t have) available. With this in mind, here are 10 important facts about facing a DUI drugs charge in North Charleston, SC:
1. The Same Law that Prohibits Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Prohibits Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
In South Carolina, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs are the same criminal offense. Both DUI and DUI drugs are prosecuted under Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, which states:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol . . . [or] 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.”
Basically, if you are too high to drive safely, you can be charged with DUI drugs in South Carolina. But, this is entirely subjective; and, while the police officer who arrests you might think that you seem impaired, this might not actually be the case.
2. Proving a DUI Drugs Charge Requires Evidence of “Material” and “Appreciable” Impairment
To obtain a conviction for DUI drugs, North Charleston prosecutors must be able to prove that you are “materially and appreciably” impaired. What does this mean? It isn’t exactly clear. To try to prove “material” and “appreciable” impairment, the prosecution will rely on the arresting officer’s testimony, perhaps video footage, and perhaps testimony from other witnesses. It will be your lawyer’s job to challenge this evidence and create reasonable doubt in the jury’s minds.
3. South Carolina’s DUI Law Applies to All Types of Legal and Illegal Drugs
As you may have noticed from the quote above, South Carolina’s DUI law applies to any “drug.” This means that it is illegal to drive under the influence of both legal and illegal controlled substances. Marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, over-the-counter sleep medications, and prescriptions from your doctor can all “materially and appreciably” impair your ability to drive.
4. There are Several Ways North Charleston Prosecutors Can Prove a DUI Drugs Charge
As mentioned above, prosecutors can potentially use various forms of evidence to prove a DUI drug charge. In addition to the arresting officer’s observations of your driving, this includes the arresting officer’s observations of your appearance, speech, and performance on the field sobriety tests (FSTs). If you took a blood or urine test, the prosecution could use these test results as well—unless you can successfully argue that they are inadmissible in court.
5. There are Several Ways to Defend Against a South Carolina DUI Drugs Charge
While there are several ways that prosecutors can prove a DUI drug charge, there are also several ways to defend against a DUI drugs charge. Some example of potential defenses to DUI drugs charges in North Charleston include:
- You were not under the influence of any drug
- You were not “materially and appreciably” impaired
- Your traffic stop was unlawful
- Your arrest was unlawful
- The search of your vehicle or person was unlawful
- The police failed to explain your “implied consent” rights
- Your blood or urine sample is tainted or unreliable
6. The Penalties for DUI Drugs Can Be Significant
Since DUI and DUI drugs are prosecuted under the same statute, DUI and DUI drugs are also subject to the same penalties. If this is your first offense, this means that you are facing close to $10,000 in fines, assessments, and surcharges; 48 hours to 30 days of jail time; and a six-month driver’s license suspension.
7. You May Be Able to Enter Into a Diversion Program To Avoid a Conviction
If you are at risk for being found guilty of DUI drugs in North Charleston, one option you may want to consider is entering into one of South Carolina’s diversionary programs. These programs (including Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)) allow you to avoid going to court if you complete a series of requirements.
8. A DUI Drugs Conviction Can Impact All Aspects of Your Life
If you get convicted of DUI drugs in North Charleston, your conviction will impact virtually all aspects of your life. Even once you complete your sentence, having a criminal record can create challenges for everything from finding work to getting a loan for a car or home.
9. DUI Drugs Convictions Are Not Eligible for Expungement
Unlike many other criminal convictions, DUI drug convictions are not eligible for expungement in South Carolina. As a result, your DUI drugs charge will remain on your record indefinitely if you get convicted.
10. You Need to Fight Your DUI Drugs Charge By All Means Available
Given the severe consequences of a DUI drugs conviction in North Charleston, you need to fight your charge by all means available. This starts with discussing your case with an experienced North Charleston defense lawyer—and you can schedule a free initial consultation at Deaton Law Firm, LLC 24/7.
Discuss Your DUI Drugs Case with North Charleston Defense Lawyer Rad S. Deaton
Have you been charged with DUI drugs in North Charleston, SC? If so, we strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free initial consultation with North Charleston DUI defense lawyer Rad S. Deaton, call 843-225-5723 or contact us online now.