If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, you have defenses available. Regardless of the facts of your case, prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—and, if they can’t, you are entitled to a “Not guilty” verdict at trial.

But, the key to avoiding unnecessary consequences is determining which defenses you can assert based on the facts of your case. While there are several potential defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina, different defenses are available in different circumstances.

Potential Defenses to a DUI Charge in South Carolina

So, what defenses can you use to fight your DUI? Here are 10 examples of potential defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina:

1. You Were Not Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

One way to defend against a DUI charge is by challenging the prosecution’s evidence that you were driving under the influence. Unless prosecutors have reliable evidence of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), they must be able to prove that your consumption of alcohol rendered your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle . . . materially and appreciably impaired.” If you hadn’t been drinking, or if you hadn’t been drinking enough to impair your driving abilities, you do not deserve to face the serious consequences of a DUI conviction.

2. The Police Stopped You Without Reasonable Suspicion

Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the police can only stop you if they have “reasonable suspicion” that you are violating (or have violated) the law. If prosecutors cannot prove that the police had reasonable suspicion, then an experienced DUI defense lawyer may be able to keep the state’s evidence out of court. Without evidence, the state won’t be able to secure a conviction.

3. The Police Didn’t Record Your DUI Stop

Police officers are required to record the entirety of all DUI stops under South Carolina law. If the police didn’t record your DUI stop for any reason, this could also serve as grounds to keep the state’s evidence out of court.

4. The Police Didn’t Explain South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law

South Carolina has an implied consent law that makes it mandatory to submit to a breath test during a DUI stop. If you refuse the breath test, not only can you face penalties for an “implied consent violation,” but prosecutors can also use your refusal against you in court.

However, this assumes that the police complied with the law. If your arresting officer did not clearly explain your rights and obligations under South Carolina’s implied consent law, this could provide a defense in your DUI case as well.

5. Your BAC Reading is Inaccurate or Unreliable

Let’s say the police complied with South Carolina’s implied consent law and you blew over the legal limit. Does this mean you are going to get convicted?

Not necessarily. There are several reasons why your BAC reading might be unreliable. For example, if the breathalyzer device wasn’t properly calibrated or there is an alternate explanation for your high BAC (i.e., you have a medical condition such as GERD), your high BAC doesn’t justify a conviction.

6. You Didn’t “Fail” the Field Sobriety Tests

If you took the field sobriety tests (FSTs) during your DUI stop and the arresting officer determined that you “failed” any of the three tests, prosecutors can use this as evidence against you as well. But, this also assumes that your test results are reliable—and this often isn’t the case. In fact, there are several issues with the FSTs that inherently call their reliability into question, and an experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to raise these issues on your behalf as warranted.

7. The Police Arrested You Without Probable Cause

In addition to requiring reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop, the Fourth Amendment also requires “probable cause” for an arrest. If the police arrested you for DUI without probable cause, then any evidence obtained after your arrest (i.e., any statements you made to the police) may be inadmissible in court.

8. The Police Didn’t Read Your Miranda Rights

Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, the police must read your rights before interrogating you in custody. If the police interrogated you in custody without reading your Miranda rights, this could render any statements you made to the police inadmissible as well.

9. Prosecutors Are Withholding Exculpatory Evidence

In South Carolina DUI cases, prosecutors are required to disclose any exculpatory evidence they have in their possession. If prosecutors unlawfully withhold any exculpatory evidence (i.e., evidence that your BAC reading may be unreliable), this could entitle you to a dismissal before trial.

10. Prosecutors Can’t Prove Your Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Finally, regardless of the facts of your case, prosecutors must be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If prosecutors don’t have the evidence they need to secure a conviction, you are entitled to a “Not guilty” verdict even if you were driving under the influence when you got arrested. This makes it worth speaking with an experienced DUI defense lawyer no matter what you believe about your guilt or innocence.

IMPORTANT: Asserting Just One Defense Might Not Be Enough

While it is important to make sure you are aware of the defenses you have available, it is also important to understand that asserting just one defense might not be enough.

For example, even if you can challenge your FST results, prosecutors may still be able to secure a conviction based on your BAC. Similarly, even if your BAC is unreliable or inadmissible in court, prosecutors may have other evidence they can use to prove that your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle [were]. materially and appreciably impaired.” To ensure that you are doing everything necessary to fight your DUI charge—and to ensure that you are considering alternatives, such as entering into a pre-trial diversion program, as warranted—you should discuss your case with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Discuss Your Case with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Mount Pleasant or Goose Creek

If you have been arrested for DUI in the Lowcountry, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer at our law offices in Mount Pleasant or Goose Creek, please call 843-572-1711 or contact us online today.