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What Is the Difference Between a Federal and a State Charge?

Most criminal prosecutions involve violations of state laws, but certain offenses can also be charged as federal crimes. State governments have the authority to pass laws that outlaw criminal behaviors, but the federal government (Congress, specifically) also has the power to write laws and penalize certain criminal actions.

For an offense to be charged as a federal crime, it typically must involvdre a national issue. For example, sex trafficking across state lines is a criminal offense that involves multiple states and is, therefore a federal issue. However, while some offenses can only be charged as federal crimes, many crimes can be charged at the state or federal level because they violate both state and federal laws.

federal vs state charge

What Is a Federal Crime?

Federal offenses include a wide variety of criminal actions, including crimes that cross state lines, defrauding or deceiving the federal government, crimes that occur on federal property, and immigration and customs violations.

Some specific examples of federal crimes include:

Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI and DEA. These crimes are then prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in federal court. The federal court system is made up of district courts, courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court. Federal judges are personally appointed by U.S. presidents.

If you have been charged with a federal criminal offense, you should take the charge very seriously. The vast majority of individuals who are prosecuted in federal court end up being convicted, and the sentences are often severe. That’s why it is critical to hire a seasoned federal criminal defense lawyer to help you fight the prosecution’s claims.

What Is a State Crime?

State crimes, which are typically outlined in a state’s penal code, involve violations of laws passed by specific states. The laws and penalties regarding certain criminal actions vary from state to state. Crimes such as kidnapping, murder, larceny, sexual assault, and burglary are state-level offenses and can be charged and prosecuted by the state. However, many state crimes could also potentially be charged at the federal level if the perpetrator crosses state lines, if the crime happened on federal land, etc.

Local police, sheriff’s offices, and other state law enforcement agencies are tasked with investigating state crimes. State crimes are usually prosecuted in the city or county where the crime occurred, with a local or state judge presiding over the trial. Occasionally, trials for state crimes are moved to nearby cities or counties if a judge agrees that the defendant can’t get a fair trial in the place where the crime was carried out.

If you have been charged with a state crime in South Carolina, then you should waste no time securing the services of an accomplished South Carolina criminal defense lawyer. To have the best chance of having your charges reduced or dismissed, you must have competent legal representation.

How Do Penalties Differ Under State and Federal Laws?

behind barsThere are federal sentencing guidelines that dictate how federal crimes should be sentenced, and federal judges tend to closely follow these guidelines. Being convicted of a criminal offense at the federal level can lead to harsher penalties than a conviction for a similar offense at the state level. Because federal interests are typically at stake in a federal criminal trial, many individuals who are convicted of federal crimes will spend more time behind bars than individuals convicted in state and local courts. People convicted of federal drug crimes, in particular, can face decades in prison, even for a first offense.

Individuals who are sentenced to prison time for federal crimes will be incarcerated in the federal prison system, while individuals who are sentenced to a prison term for a state crime will be incarcerated in state and local facilities.

Contact a Columbia Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Whether you are facing charges in state or federal court, our experienced trial attorneys at Truslow & Truslow have the knowledge and resources to build a robust defense on your behalf. If you hire our skilled legal team to handle your case, we will fiercely defend your rights throughout the legal process and provide you with vigorous representation in court. Contact us today at (803) 256-6276 to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated South Carolina criminal defense attorneys.

How to Prove I’ve Been Wrongfully Convicted

A person’s rights to a fair trial and the assistance of legal counsel are essential aspects of the American justice system. So much so, the framers ensured these rights within the United States Constitution. Even after a person is charged and arrested, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Having faith in our justice system entails trusting that an innocent person will be found not guilty at the time of sentencing.

There are, however, cases in which the justice system fails. If you know that you are innocent of a crime but have been wrongly convicted, you will generally have an opportunity to appeal the conviction. If the appeal fails, you can file a petition for a Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) challenge.

The PCR process is arduous, complicated, and full of red tape. The necessary steps are usually far too complex for an individual to undertake on their own. A South Carolina Post-Conviction Relief attorney can help guide you through the process and advocate for you in court.

What Steps Are Involved in a PCR Challenge?

In South Carolina, a PCR challenge is only available to those who have already appealed the conviction in their case. After the direct denial of an appeal, they are then eligible to file for PCR as the defendant (applicant). For this reason, South Carolina courts tend to refer to PCR as the second step of an appeals process. The application is complex, and it is important to promptly file it with the court and serve it to the appropriate parties.

As an applicant, you must issue detailed arguments and evidence about why you deserve PCR. This can be particularly challenging if you are currently incarcerated, but an attorney who has experience with the PCR process may be able to assist in expediting it.

After the PCR application is submitted, the court may call a hearing in which the applicant’s attorney can argue for a new trial. As part of this hearing, the defendant’s counsel must demonstrate the grounds for the original trial resulting in a wrongful conviction.

What Are the Grounds for a PCR Challenge?

In general, Post-Conviction Relief issues are based on a claim of ineffective assistance from the counsel who defended you at the time of your conviction. This might mean that your trial attorneys were operating at a level that the state considers sub-standard or that their approach brought undue prejudice to your case. 

post conviction reliefAn effective criminal defense attorney can help individuals who were wrongfully convicted under the following circumstances:

  • Counsel failed to object to inadmissible evidence
  • Arguments of the prosecution lacked credibility
  • A judge gave improper instructions to the jury
  • Counsel failed to object to a court trial error
  • Subject matter jurisdiction was deficient
  • Post-trial discovery of new evidence
  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Illegal or expired sentence

Is There a Time Limit on Petitioning for a PCR Challenge?

If you are considering challenging a wrongful conviction, time is of the essence. South Carolina delimits a one-year statute of limitations for Post-Conviction Relief. This means that you must submit your challenge within one year of receiving your conviction. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to petition for PCR. A criminal defense attorney who has experience handling Post-Conviction Relief matters can help ensure ­­you file your case in a timely manner.

Contact an Experienced Columbia Criminal Defense Attorney Today

A wrongful conviction has consequences that go far beyond criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines. Having a conviction on your record can make it very challenging to secure a place to live, find employment, or enroll in higher education. Sometimes a wrongful conviction can even result in the loss of civil rights. It simply isn’t worth allowing a conviction to remain on your record if you are innocent of the crime.

Suppose you believe that your conviction occurred due to ineffective counsel or other prejudicial circumstances, and you are still within the one-year statute of limitations. If this is the case, you do not want to miss your opportunity to file for Post-Conviction Relief.

The Columbia criminal defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow are here to help you file the application and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 today for a free consultation. We will assess the particulars of your case and give you a straightforward assessment of what your PCR options are. Don’t wait to reach out. We’re ready to help. 

What You Need to Know About Your Assault Charge

judge ruling assault charge in south carolinaAn arrest for assault can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment. A conviction can ruin your reputation, family, and future. If you’re forced to serve a prison sentence, you can experience challenges upon your release. It’s much more complicated looking for a job and a place to live. You also might lose your right to vote or own a firearm.

South Carolina courts take assault seriously. There are varying types and degrees of assault charges a person can face. The consequences of an assault conviction can be far-reaching and affect every part of your life. Even if a judge dismisses your case or a jury finds you not guilty, you could still face the negative stigma of the initial arrest. You could lose your job and suffer the burden of a criminal record.

What Is Assault?

There are four separate categories of assault. The charge depends on the type of offense committed. Charges typically include assault and battery. Assault is the threat of bodily harm, while battery is unwanted touching of another person.

According to South Carolina Code 16-3-600(E)(1), assault and battery in the third degree, also called simple assault, occurs when a person unlawfully causes someone’s injury or offers or attempts to injure another person and they have the ability to cause injury.

South Carolina Code 16-30-600(D)(1) defines assault and battery in the second degree as an offense someone commits by unlawfully injuring another person or offering or attempting to injure them while having the ability to do so and:

  • Causes moderate bodily injury or could have caused moderate bodily injury;
  • Engages in nonconsensual touching of private parts under or above the clothing.

Assault and battery in the first degree as defined under South Carolina Code 16-30-600(C)(1) involves causing an unlawful injury to another person and:

  • Nonconsensual touching of private parts above or under clothing with lascivious and lewd intent; or
  • It happens while committing kidnapping, robbery, theft, or burglary.

First-degree assault and battery could also involve attempting or offering to cause injury to another person while having the ability to do so and this act:

  • Occurs while committing burglary, robbery, kidnapping, or theft; or
  • Involves using a method likely to result in great bodily injury or death.

Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature is a severe charge of assault and battery. Someone commits this crime if they unlawfully cause injury to another person and:

  • The person suffers great bodily harm; or
  • The act occurs using a method likely to cause great bodily injury or death.

Sentencing for Assault and Battery

assault charge defense attorneyAssault and battery in the third and second degrees are considered misdemeanor offenses. However, if you committed assault and battery in the first degree or of a high and aggravated nature, you can face a felony sentence.

Penalties for assault and battery convictions depend on the degree of the charge. South Carolina issues sentencing guidelines judges can use to impose the appropriate sentence based on the type of crime and its severity. Misdemeanor offenses resulting in less than a one-year prison sentence are exempt from the classification system.

The maximum sentences allowed for assault and battery are below.

Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature

  • Up to twenty years in prison

Assault and Battery in the First Degree

  • A maximum of ten years in prison

Assault and Battery in the Second Degree

  • No more than three years in prison;
  • Up to a $2,500 fine; or
  • Both.

Assault and Battery in the Third Degree

  • Up to thirty days of imprisonment;
  • A maximum of a$500 fine; or
  • Both.

If convicted, committing assault and battery with a carried or concealed weapon could result in a harsher sentence. The penalty for this misdemeanor offense could include:

  • Up to a $200 fine;
  • At least three months but no more than twelve months in prison; or
  • Both.

This sentence is in addition to sentencing for the assault and battery charge if you’re found guilty of carrying or concealing a deadly weapon during the crime.

Common Defenses Against an Assault Charge

Multiple strategies are available to defend a person facing assault and battery charges. The most common include:

  • Alibi
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Defense of property
  • Constitutional rights violation
  • Coercion or duress
  • Being incorrectly identified by a witness as the perpetrator
  • Affirmative defenses

You should consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately following your arrest to determine the appropriate defense to use in your case.

Contact Truslow & Truslow

Since 2009, Truslow & Truslow has fought for the rights of our clients facing criminal charges. We bring more than 50 years of legal experience to each case we take. When you hire us, our team will review the circumstances of the crime to create an effective defense. You can count on us to tirelessly work to try to secure your freedom and future.

If you were arrested or charged with assault, call Truslow & Truslow at (803) 256-6276 today. One of our experienced and aggressive Columbia criminal defense lawyers can meet you for a confidential consultation. We’re available 24/7 to speak with you when you need assistance.

What To Do If You Are Convicted of Sexual Assault

sexual assault convictionA sexual assault conviction can have lasting consequences. It will be hard to find an employer who will hire someone with a history of sex crimes, and those jobs that are available usually don’t pay well. You may also have trouble being approved for a place to live, gaining custody of your children, obtaining a healthcare license, or pursuing higher education. If you are required to register as a sex offender, you will face many restrictions, potentially for the rest of your life. Since the sex offender registry is public, it may also affect your social relationships with family, friends, and neighbors even decades after your offense.

If you have already gone to trial and been found guilty of sexual assault, you may feel there are not a lot of legal options left. However, if you feel you were wrongfully convicted, a skilled attorney can help you explore options for making an appeal to have the decision reversed or to obtain a lesser sentence that correctly matches the crime you committed.

Penalties For Sexual Assault

Not all sexual assault cases are the same, and the penalties differ greatly depending on the severity of the crime. According to the South Carolina code, all criminal sexual conduct is considered a felony and comes with stiff penalties. In general, criminal sexual conduct is divided into the following categories:

  • First Degree – Includes the use of aggravated force or physical confinement while committing sexual assault. This is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
  • Second Degree – Includes the use of aggravated coercion to commit sexual assault. This is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Third Degree – Includes the use of force or coercion without aggravating circumstances to commit sexual assault, or the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated, and force was not used. This is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Criminal sexual conduct with minors is also separated into first, second, and third-degree offenses, and warrants higher penalties than offenses towards adult victims. The age of the victim, as well as the age of the offender at the time the crime was committed, are taken into account. Some situations may warrant a sentence of life in prison, and the death penalty is even possible in some cases involving a minor.

Registering As a Sex Offender

registering sex offenderSouth Carolina law section 23-3-430 requires that anyone who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct must register as a sex offender. This will subject you to many restrictions such as where you can live and work, and your registration must be updated regularly.

There are three tiers of sex offenders:

  • Tier I: You must verify your registration annually for at least 15 years
  • Tier II: You must verify your registration every six months for at least 25 years.
  • Tier III: The most serious of the tiers, you must verify your registration every 90 days for the rest of your life.

If your offense involved minors, the restrictions imposed on sex offenders will be much stricter than if the offense involved an adult.

Making an Appeal

If you feel that you were unfairly convicted of sexual assault, you may have the option to make an appeal to a higher court that the conviction was not legally correct. This trial will usually only reexamine the court proceedings from the previous trial and the goal is to determine whether the decision was made based on legal error. Additional evidence and witnesses are not considered during this process.

Making an appeal is difficult, and only a small percentage of appellants have their decision reversed. Due to the complicated nature of the appeals process, it is crucial that you seek help from an experienced attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.

Reducing the Sentence

It is also possible to have your sentence reduced after you are convicted if additional evidence becomes available or in various other circumstances. An attorney will be able to help you understand how the law applies to your specific situation and whether or not this would be a possibility for you.

Contact Truslow & Truslow Today

Being convicted of sexual assault has life-altering consequences, whether you are guilty or not. Even if you made some poor choices, you deserve to have legal representation with your best interest in mind. Sexual assault is a serious offense and is nothing to take lightly, but your punishment should match the crime committed.

If you have received an unfair conviction or an excessive sentence for sexual assault, the South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow may be able to help. Contact us today at (803) 256-6276 for a consultation.

Can I Get a Felony Expunged?

 Having a criminal conviction on your record can be a major impairment. It can impact your ability to get an education, start a career, secure a loan, and find housing. In short, it may be a barricade to improving your personal and professional situation. However, there is a way to get certain convictions removed from your record. The process is called expungement.

How does the process work, and are you eligible to apply for an expungement? At Truslow & Truslow, we want to break down the expungement process for you and reveal which felonies may be eligible to be removed from your criminal record.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a court order that removes an arrest or conviction from your criminal record. In South Carolina, the order is generally called an “Order for Destruction of Arrest Records” and must be signed by a judge. The document dictates that all agencies destroy records pertaining to an individual’s arrest, mug shots, fingerprints, and other official records. In essence, an expungement can give an individual a “clean slate.”

Records Eligible to Be Expunged in South Carolina

Only certain charges and convictions are eligible to be expunged. These offenses include:

  • Non-Convictions. Non-convictions, such as charges that were dropped, dismissed, or resulted in a not-guilty judgment. While you may not have been convicted of any crime, just being accused of an offense can be enough to damage a reputation. Non-convictions are eligible for expungement from a person’s record even if that person was never convicted of an offense.
  • Misdemeanor Convictions. A first offense misdemeanor that is punishable by not more than 30 days of jail time and a fine of $1,000 can potentially be expunged.
  • fraudulent checkFraudulent Checks. A first offense conviction for fraudulent checks charges may be expunged.
  • Blue Light Offense. A first offense for failing to stop for a law enforcement vehicle when signaled may be expunged.
  • Simple Drug Possession. A first offense conviction for simple possession of almost any type of drug or controlled substance might be expunged, as long as the individual does not have subsequent drug convictions for three years.
  • Possession With Intent to Distribute. A first offense conviction for possession with intent to distribute any drug could be expunged if the individual does not have other drug convictions for 20 years.
  • Charges resolved by successful completion of a court-order program. If an individual successfully completes a pre-trial intervention program, alcohol education program, or traffic education program, their conviction may be eligible to be expunged.
  • Juvenile Offenses. If the offense was non-violent, a juvenile may be able to have their record expunged if they are currently over the age of 18 and have no prior convictions that would carry a maximum sentence of five years.

If you have questions about whether your felony conviction can be legally expunged, consult with a skilled South Carolina defense attorney.

Records that Cannot Be Expunged

Some convictions cannot be removed from an individual’s criminal record. Examples of crimes that cannot be expunged include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration
  • Motor vehicle violations
  • Hunting, fishing, and gaming charges
  • Serious or heinous felony convictions

Felony convictions for most violent crimes, including murder can never be removed from a person’s criminal record.

What Is the Process for Expunging a Criminal Record?

To request an expungement, you must apply by contacting the Solicitors Office in the county where your charges originated. You will be asked to fill out an application and provide court documents about your conviction or charges. Jurisdictions may have different requirements and administrative fees. An attorney can help you determine which office you need to get in touch with and help you track down the records and paperwork you will need to provide.

Expungements can be a time-consuming process. They do not happen overnight and may take two to six weeks to complete. In some cases, the process may take even longer.

Do I Need an Attorney to Handle a Felony Expungement?

criminal background expungementStrictly speaking, no. You can handle an expungement request on your own. However, just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should. An attorney can be a valuable resource when applying for an expungement.

A skilled defense attorney can review your circumstances to make sure that an expungement is your best legal option and that you are eligible to apply. An attorney can also locate the Solicitors Office that has jurisdiction over your claim. In addition, an experienced attorney will be able to help you track down all the necessary documentation the Solicitor’s Office requires. Failing to provide all the correct paperwork can slow down the process and potentially end up in a rejection.

You may also want to consult with an attorney to talk about other legal options if you are not eligible for an expungement.

Reach Out to Truslow & Truslow Today

You don’t have to live in the shadow of your conviction forever. Expungement may be an available option to help you get out from under the cloud of a criminal record. To discuss whether your felony conviction or criminal charges are eligible to be expunged in South Carolina, contact Truslow & Truslow.

We want to offer you a confidential consultation. Call our office at (803) 256-6276 to schedule yours today.

What Qualifies as Drug Paraphernalia?

Understanding what qualifies as drug paraphernalia can be tricky. While the possession of drugs is a criminal offense in the state of South Carolina, the possession and distribution of drug paraphernalia is considered a civil offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $500. In general, drug paraphernalia is defined as any instrument or device which aids in the ingestion or administration of illegal substances.

Determining what can and cannot be considered drug paraphernalia depends on many factors, including your access to the paraphernalia and the circumstances surrounding your charge.

South Carolina Laws

According to Section 44-53-110, “Paraphernalia” is used to cover any device, instrument, object, or instrument intended or designed to help a person take, smoke, ingest, make, or prepare any controlled substance. The law specifically excludes cigarette papers and pipes for smoking tobacco from this definition.

According to Section 44-53-391,  it’s illegal to sell, advertise for sale, manufacture, own, possess, deliver, or have with the intent to deliver or sell, paraphernalia.

According to Section 44-53-391, when a court or some other authority makes a determination about whether a particular object is actually paraphernalia, they’ll consider the statutes and any other relevant factors. They may also evaluate other information, such as:

  • How close the object was to any controlled substances
  • Any statements about its use made by whoever owned or controlled the object
  • Whether or not any controlled substance residue was on or in the object.

Types of Charges

Determining what is and is not drug paraphernalia depends largely on the circumstances surrounding your charge. In general, many of the following artifacts may be considered drug paraphernalia:

  • Bongsdrug paraphenelia charge attorney
  • Plastic bags
  • Needles
  • Small spoons
  • Syringes
  • Lighters
  • Glue
  • Small mirrors
  • Straws
  • Pipes (but not tobacco pipes)
  • Bowls

In addition to the type of paraphernalia you’re caught with, there are circumstantial factors that may play a role in determining whether or not you’ll be charged. These factors include:

  • Constructive possession vs. active possession: The type of possession you’re determined to have can be an important factor in a drug paraphernalia charge. Constructive possession is when you have drug paraphernalia within your control, but perhaps not within your immediate possession. An example of such a circumstance would be holding paraphernalia in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Active possession is when you are caught with drug paraphernalia on your person with the intent to use it or administer drugs with it.
  • Connection to Drug Possession: If a court is considering your drug paraphernalia charge, they will also take any previous drug possession charges into consideration. They may consider factors such as the amount of an illegal substance with which you were caught, the number of times you’ve been charged with drug possession, and your intent to sell or distribute.
  • Use and Intent: Even though there are some instruments and devices that are often associated with drug use, many types of drug paraphernalia have purposes outside of their connection to illegal substances. For example, plastic bags and straws may not always be intended for use with drugs and therefore may not always be charged as drug paraphernalia.

Penalties for a Charge

Individuals may be ticketed and fined up to $500 for possession of paraphernalia. Corporations charged with possession and/or distribution of paraphernalia may be punished with a fine of up to $50,000. While this is not a criminal charge, it is a civil citation and will be listed on your record.

Need Help? Call Truslow & Truslow

When you’ve been issued a citation for possession or distribution of drug paraphernalia, you’re likely uncertain about what to do next. After all, you don’t want that citation on your permanent record.

The attorneys at Truslow & Truslow are here to help. We’ve been representing clients like you for many years, working to get the citation dropped or otherwise minimized. We have a variety of strategies we can use to argue that the citation was invalid, including illegal search and seizure, that the items weren’t yours or weren’t knowingly in your possession, and others.

When you call us at (803) 256-6276, you’ll get a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys so that you can determine the best course of action in your drug paraphernalia ticket case.

Don’t try to handle this on your own. You need an experienced attorney to look out for your rights and to make sure you don’t fall into any traps that will make the citation stick to your record when it could have been done away with. Let us help. Call today.

How to Avoid DUIs During the Holidays

Every holiday season, families and friends look forward to annual gatherings. While such occasions can be a great chance to catch up and spend time with those you love, they’re not completely without risk. Drinking at holiday gatherings can lead to reckless driving and motor vehicle accidents.

Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol puts you at risk of being charged with a DUI, which can stay on your record forever. Luckily, the South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow are prepared to help you understand the implications of a DUI charge. In the meantime, there are several easy steps you can take to avoid being charged with a DUI as you take to the roads this holiday season.

Assign a Designated Driver

avoid dui during holidaysBefore getting behind the wheel, it’s important that you designate one person who is committed to remaining sober so that everyone in your party can get home safely. Determining this beforehand is a wise idea, as it will eliminate the chance of anyone driving drunk. If you find yourself in a circumstance where a designated driver is not available, local taxi companies and rideshare services like Lyft and Uber can be a good resource to use to make sure everyone in your group practices safe driving habits. Making this decision before attending a gathering where alcohol will be present is a wise choice that will keep both you and other motorists safe as you get behind the wheel – or don’t.

Exercise Self-Awareness

Each individual interacts with alcohol in a different way. Factors like age, weight, height, and genetic predisposition can all play a role in determining how quickly your body absorbs alcohol. It’s important that you’re aware of how alcohol affects you so that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you’ll have to drive while drunk.

In the state of South Carolina, a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is enough for you to be charged with a DUI. Your BAC, or blood alcohol content, is the percentage of alcohol that your body has not yet absorbed at any given time. It’s important to be aware of how your body interacts with alcohol, as you may not become drunk at the same rate as those around you. When you’re aware of your own capacity when it comes to alcohol, you can more easily prevent motor vehicle accidents this holiday season.

Don’t Drink and Drive

drunk driving during holidaysThough it may seem simple, the easiest way to avoid being charged with a DUI this holiday season is to not drink and drive. There are many impairments that come with driving drunk, including blurred vision, damaged depth perception, increased reaction time, and diminished judgment.

In addition to the risks of driving drunk, in the state of South Carolina, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol. You may face penalties, such as fines of up to $6,300 and/or time in prison, depending on your BAC level at the time you are charged. In refraining from drinking and driving, you’re choosing the safest option and are working to protect both those in your party and other nearby motorists.

DUI Statistics

According to a report from Responsibility.org, in 2018, there were 291 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities across the state of South Carolina. Of this number, 27 were fatalities of those under 21 years of age.

Data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety shows that from “2013-2017 […] that there were 28,235 DUI-related collisions reported statewide.”

A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2019, there were 5.72 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people in the state of South Carolina.

Give Truslow & Truslow a Call Today

Dealing with the repercussions of a DUI can be extremely stressful, particularly if you have been wrongfully charged. The team of top-tier attorneys at Truslow & Truslow is here to help as you seek justice in your wrongful DUI case.

Call Truslow & Truslow at (803) 256-6276 to schedule a confidential consultation today. We’ll put you in contact with one of our attorneys to discuss your circumstances and determine the best next steps. Get the experienced DUI lawyers of Truslow & Truslow in your corner today. We’re available 24/7 so we can answer your questions right when you need us. We’ll do everything we can to get your charges dropped or reduced so the DUI has as little effect on the rest of your life as possible.

Call (803) 256-6276 today.

New Laws for Golf Cart Drivers to Be Aware of this Summer

Summer is upon us and with the nicer weather many folks choose to drive golf carts. But did you know that new laws were enacted in November of 2018 for people who own golf carts in the state of South Carolina? Importantly, many of the same laws which apply to motor vehicles will now be enforced for moped and golf cart owners, including DUI laws/

Under these new laws, a golf cart now has to have a permit and decal issued by the State of South Carolina, and registration issued from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registration requires the golf cart owner to show proof of ownership and liability insurance for the golf cart (and to pay a $5.00 fee). The permits are good for five years, but must be re-issued if the permit holder changes his or her address.

It is important to note that, while operating a golf cart, the driver must have in his or her possession:

  1. The registration certificate;
  2. Proof of liability insurance for the golf cart; and
  3. A valid driver’s license.

Also, the person operating a permitted golf cart must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

Other rules for golf carts include:

  • It can only be operated during day light hours.
  • It may be driven only within four miles of the address on the registration certificate
  • It may be driven only on a secondary highway or street where the speed limit is 35 MPH or less.
  • It cannot be driven on a bike path.

Additionally, the new laws have prescribed penalties golf cart owners who drive them without registration and have also redefined the terms for moped/motor vehicle.

South Carolina Ranked Highest for Traffic Fatalities in 2017

Everyone believes that he or she lives in the state with the worst drivers in the country. Listen up if you live in South Carolina, because you just might be right. Using data obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2017, Car Insurance Comparison ranked all 50 states from most dangerous to least, based on:

  • The fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled; and
  • The number of fatalities resulting from the failure to obey traffic laws, drunk driving, speeding, and careless driving.

The complete results of the study provide rankings for each state plus the Washington, D.C. Some key takeaways include:

  • With 35,092 in 2015, traffic fatalities are on the rise in the U.S.
  • Driving on U.S. public roads is more dangerous today than ever
  • America has more fatal crashes than any other wealthy nation

According to a recent Reader’s Digest article, every year since 2013, South Carolina has been ranked as one of the most dangerous driving states. 2017 is actually the first year South Carolina made it out of the top (perhaps “bottom” is more appropriate) five, ranking sixth in terms of nation’s worst drivers overall. Still, no state has a higher number of traffic fatalities than South Carolina, with 977 during 2017. Nearly 1,000 fatalities in one year in just one state is a catastrophic problem. The loss of hundreds of lives could have been prevented simply by driving safely!

South Carolina is now ranking in the “better half” of the U.S. for fatal crashes caused by drunk driving, a big part thanks to Emma’s Law which was passed in 2014 after six-year-old Emma Longstreet was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Emma’s mother, Karen Longstreet is quoted as saying “It’s like in South Carolina it’s okay for people to drink and drive. . . . It’s not. It can destroy families. . . . We didn’t do anything wrong. We were wearing our seat belts. We were on our way to church.”

These are just some of the sobering statistics showing the overwhelming danger of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant. Those who make reckless decisions are needlessly causing danger to other drivers on the road, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. With public and pressure for more strict enforcement of DUI laws from the government comes greater awareness of DUI consequences. This, in turn, creates cruel social stigmas when someone is charged with a DUI. Before such concerns surfaced, theses stigmas didn’t exist. A DUI conviction is seen as a moral and ethical problem, and often this is with good reason.

If you are facing DUI charges in Columbia, or anywhere in South Carolina, don’t go it alone. Contact Truslow & Truslow today for a confidential consultation by calling (803) 256-6276 or by filling out our email form.

Operation Southern Shield 2018

Law enforcement officers in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee participated in the “Operation Southern Shield” speed enforcement operation last week, with an unofficial goal of putting the hammer down on drivers hammering down on the gas pedal.

2017’s highly successful operation focused on drivers breaking traffic laws on interstates, major highways, and local roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding killed more than 10,000 people in the United States in 2016 and was a factor in 27 percent of fatal crashes in the nation. Similarly, the United States Department of Transportation found that speed was a factor in 31 percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2005-2014.

Here are the statistics from the South Carolina Highway Patrol:

  • DUI Cases: 203
  • Seat Belt Cases: 1,620
  • Speeding Cases: 2,974

Operation Southern Shield was essentially a “zero tolerance” mission by law enforcement, and some people may have found themselves victims of law enforcement over-reach. If you were, or someone you know was cited with a DUI or traffic violation during the past week, or at any time in the future, the Columbia DUI lawyers at Truslow & Truslow are here to help you. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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