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What You Need to Know About DUI Charges

It is a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. This offense is known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) but is more commonly known as drunk driving. However, this name is a bit of a misnomer because you don’t need to be intoxicated or driving for that matter to receive a DUI. Impairment is based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and has to be above the national standard of 0.08 percent to be considered intoxicated. If you’re under 21, however, there is zero tolerance for driving while under the influence. Any trace of alcohol will result in a DUI charge.

Nowadays, DUI charges are much more common than before. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2015. Many people assume only alcoholics or avid drug users get DUIs, but that is far from the truth. As DUI fatalities kept happening, more and more organizations, such a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), pressure the federal and local governments to do something about it. That has led to our current system that evokes incredibly harsh penalties, even for those who have never been charged with a crime in the past.

With the creation of these organizations and stricter enforcement 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. People could drink and drive without any issues, similar to how people treated cigarettes and smoking. But now, it is seen as a moral and ethic problem and with good reason. But people charged with DUIs don’t deserve the level of persecution they receive because of one mistake. They are still individuals with rights and freedoms.

How DUIs are Enforced

The state is also motivated for enforcing DUI arrests on its own accord. A person charged with a DUI is looking at a considerable amount of monetary loss because of it, and the State mostly profits off of these charges. Because a DUI is a criminal offense, the State is prosecuting the person charged, so any court penalties and fines go straight to them. Not only that, but the government highly regulates alcohol and motor vehicles and therefore profits from any fees collected from the DMV-required alcohol class or an ignition interlock. All of this incentivizes the State government to aggressively enforce harsh DUI penalties and strict rules.

Police can usually stop people who are driving if they have reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence. However, most DUI charges occur when a police officer pulls you over for an entirely different reason. When an officer has reasonable suspicion, they may briefly hold the individual. During this period, the officer will question the person to further their investigation to determine whether or not the person is driving while under the influence. After this, if the officer still believes their suspicion, they will conduct a field sobriety test.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

What exactly constitutes reasonable suspicion has been a bit of a controversy. Being able to prove that the officer had no reason to pull the person over is ground for dismissal. A few examples of actions that might constitute reasonable suspicion include:

  • An illegal turn
  • Drifting from lane to lane
  • Extremely slow or fast driving
  • Braking often or coming to a complete stop without a reason
  • Hitting objects with their car

This is only an illustrative and not exhaustive list of what actions can encompass reasonable suspicion. It is important to note that an individual does not need to be driving at all. If an officer sees someone asleep behind the wheel, even if their car is parked, the officer can detain the individual to determine whether or not they had been driving under the influence. To reiterate, an officer does not need to see someone driving to have reasonable suspicion.

What Rights Do I Have?

There are certain unalienable rights that a person possesses even when charged with a DUI. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments from the United States Constitution grant you your rights in a DUI defense.

  • The Fourth Amendment: This amendment prevents unreasonable searches and seizures. When an officer pulls you over because of reasonable suspicion, it may be in violation of this amendment. However, when the cop has stopped you, it is best to cooperate, and in most cases, the violation will be used in the defense to mitigate or drop the charge.
  • The Fifth Amendment: There are certain restrictions on the government when prosecuting someone charged with a crime. Most commonly, this means you can remain silent to prevent yourself from being incriminated. After being arrested, you can plead the Fifth and not say a word. The less said means less evidence the prosecution has to prove a conviction.

A DUI conviction will have severe consequences on every aspect of your life beyond just suspension of a license, fines, and injuries. With a DUI, there is potential that you may lose your job, have a much more difficult time in obtaining a job, lose respect and integrity in the eyes of friends and family, and much more. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

At first blush, it may seem like the facts of DUI cases are fairly straightforward and an attorney would just be a waste of money. But, DUI charges are serious and one of the most complex misdemeanor cases. With a skilled attorney, even with evidence of blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit, you can get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Contact Us

It is crucial for your benefit to consult with an experienced attorney to help if you’ve been charged with a DUI. The DUI lawyers at Truslow & Truslow will guide you through the meticulous and challenging process of dealing with a DUI charge. DUI’s are taken very seriously by the court. Our attorneys understand your situation and know the stakes at risk. To us, you’re more than our client. We will always be as honest and straightforward as we can when going over the details of your case. Contact us today at (803) 256-6276 and let us aggressively fight for your rights.

Beware of Attorneys Who See Tragedy as Opportunity

After the preventable train collision of Amtrak 91 near Columbia yesterday, many victims and their families are facing undue suffering. Those touched by this tragedy may see long-term trauma, grief, and a host of other difficult issues to shoulder. During the aftermath of this accident, it is important to beware of those who would try to take advantage of these events.

The South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) is our state’s leading association of plaintiff attorneys. It wants those affected by the collision to know:

  • Practicing lawyers in South Carolina are prohibited from directly soliciting clients with whom they have no prior relationship, or within 30 days of a disaster such as this one. If someone tries to solicit you as a client, especially within the next 30 days, be cautious and consider reporting it immediately to the appropriate authorities.
  • If you have any legal questions or need to retain a lawyer for loss of work, injury, or other accident-related issues, make sure you are dealing with someone who is duly licensed to practice law in South Carolina.
  • If you want to know if someone is a member of the SCAJ, or would like the contact information for assistance in verifying a lawyer’s standing with the South Carolina Bar, call the SCAJ office at (803) 799-5097.

These rules are in place to protect grieving individuals from being tricked into accepting representation from lawyers who may not have their best interests at heart. We urge you to be wary of any lawyer who comes directly to you after a tragic event such as yesterday’s train accident.

South Carolina Department of Public Safety Kicks Off Its “Sober or Slammer” Campaign

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) has officially launched its anti-drunk-driving campaign titled “Sober or Slammer.” The program aims to crack down on drunk driving, which tends to spike during the busy holiday season as people attend more frequent work and social parties, have more time off from work and school, and tend to consume more alcohol than at other times of the year. According to law enforcement statistics, nearly 22,000 people were arrested for drunk driving last year.

The “Sober or Slammer” campaign begins today (Thursday, December 14th) and people can expect to see a more significant law enforcement presence on our roads and highways for the duration of the campaign.

If you are arrested for DUI, the attorneys of Truslow & Truslow can help you. Because of campaigns like “Sober or Slammer,” more citizens just like you may find themselves behind bars this holiday season and may find that they are forced to deal with the fines, community service, and other issues that come with a DUI arrest. With an experienced DUI attorney on your side like the attorneys at Truslow & Truslow, you can fight the charges against you and may be able to have them reduced or dropped entirely. Don’t wait until it is too late. Contact an experienced member of our team at (803) 256-6276 today.

Attorney Neal Truslow secures $314,000 jury verdict for client injured in slip-and-fall accident

The team at Truslow & Truslow are proud to announce the most recent jury verdict secured by Attorney Neal Truslow this week. On November 16th, an Orangeburg County jury awarded his client $314,000 for her slip-and-fall claim against a negligent property manager.

The client, an elderly female, was severely injured when she slipped and fell in a parking lot operated, controlled, and managed by an out-of-town property manager. The accident was caused by unsafe and poorly lit conditions in the parking lot. The client was seriously injured as a result of these conditions, and when confronted with the issue, the property manager claimed that he was only responsible for collecting rent and was not responsible for the accident, and instead blamed our client for the accident. Because the defendant refused to accept responsibility and refused to resolve the claim in a reasonable manner, the case went to trial.

After a four day trial in front of an Orangeburg County jury, the jury returned a liability and damages verdict in favor of our client based on the liability and damages established. We are proud of Attorney Truslow’s hard work on this case and his passionate defense of our client’s rights. We always seek to get the best possible outcome for each and every client we work with, and are proud to see justice served.

Disclaimer: Our law firm cannot guarantee results and this result was specific to the facts, circumstances, and legal issues of this case. It should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for a different client in a similar circumstance without knowing more details about the case. This result is not intended to compare our services with any other lawyer’s services.


In the news: Cobb County Police Department “drug-whisperer” program may result in false arrests

The investigative team at NBC 11 Alive profiles three individuals who were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs by one of the 250 officers who have Georgia’s special “drug recognition expert” training.  This training allows officers to make arrests based on the assumption of intoxication, without regard to actual scientific tests. Watch the video above or read the story here.

A false arrest can have a devastating impact on the life and livelihood of the person who is arrested, so law enforcement officers need to make sure that they do not erroneously jail someone who is innocent. If you believe that you have been falsely arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, you do not have to suffer the consequences alone. The Columbia DUI lawyers of Truslow & Truslow are prepared to fight on your behalf to help prove your innocence and restore your good name. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 today.


What Should I do After a Dog Bite?

Most dogs are friendly and serve as kind domestic pets for families. However, even the kindest dog can become aggressive when scared, threatened, or provoked. Millions of people receive serious dog bites each year, and the event is often unexpected and painful. If you were bitten by a dog, here are some simple steps you can take to handle the incident safely and effectively.

Determine the Dog’s Owner

If you do not know who owns a dog, you cannot hold that person accountable for their pet’s actions, so it is important to secure the name and address of the dog’s owner. It is also important to jot down the names and addresses of any witnesses of the incident. If the person with the dog is not the owner, be sure to write down the name and address of the person who had custody of the animal. Take extra care to seek medical attention if the dog was a stray or you can’t identify the owner.

Take Pictures

Documenting the incident is essential, especially if you plan to file a claim for compensation after the incident. Photos of the wound can be valuable evidence for the insurance company or your future attorney.

Seek Medical Attention

It is essential to receive medical help following a dog bite, especially if the dog was unfamiliar to you, the bite is deep, or your wound is exceptionally bloody. While you may feel comfortable washing and sterilizing the wound at home, performing first aid yourself is not advised. Dog bites can have far-reaching consequences, including serious infection and other diseases, such as rabies. Depending on the severity of your wound, you may need stitches or rabies shots.

Speak with the Owner’s Insurance Company

If the dog’s owner has insurance, the insurance company may get in touch with you. At this point, take down the name, address, and phone number of the company. Also, ask for your claim number and the amount of money available to you.

Contact a Columbia Dog Bites Attorney

More often than not, you can receive compensation for your injuries that someone else’s negligence caused. However, insurance companies often fail to offer dog bite victims the amount of money they deserve. A qualified Columbia personal injury attorney from Truslow & Truslow can help you handle the insurance company so you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 to discuss your case.

Wrongful DUI Charge from an Untrained Officer Affords Columbia Professor $200,075 in Damages

Police have no doubt been under more scrutiny in recent years as more and more cases concerning wrongful arrests and improperly trained officers come to the public’s attention. Another of these cases was settled this year in Columbia, South Carolina. Darris Hassell, an esteemed professor and coach at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster, was awarded $200,075 by a jury for his suit alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, and negligent supervision, according to a recent article by The State. Hassell was arrested for DUI charges in Columbia in 2014 despite there being no evidence of his intoxication and even after a breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.0.

Hassell asserts that his arrest was due to a lack of training on the part of the officer and that the arrest “could have happened to anybody.” When Hassell was initially pulled over for making what the officer asserted was an illegal turn, the officer then claimed that he could smell alcohol on Hassell despite the fact that Hassell “never drinks.” The officer then proceeded to force Hassell to complete a series of field sobriety tests while referencing an instruction book about how to perform the very tests he was administering. The officer then asserted that Hassell had failed the tests, and proceeded to arrest him and take him to the police station where he blew the 0.0 on a breathalyzer. Still convinced of Hassell’s inebriation, the officer took Hassell to a local hospital, taking him directly through the emergency room before calling his supervisor to ask how to take a urine sample for drug testing. The urine test later went missing, along with the police dashcam video of the arrest.

Hassell spent 16 hours in jail following his arrest and had his DUI charges dropped after asking for a trial by jury for his charges. Although happy to have the charges dropped, Hassell still felt the entire process was a wrong and needless ordeal that should be corrected. The jury only took 41 minutes to decide his case and Hassell believes they added the extra $75 for the fee he had to pay to get his car out of impound after he was released. Hassell is pleased that the legal system worked the way it is meant to and that justice was served, although he thinks the whole ordeal paints the city he loves in a bad light.

Contact Us

If you are currently facing DUI charges, wrongful or otherwise, a skilled criminal defense attorney is your best option to get your charges dropped or reduced. DUI charges can have serious consequences, such as jail time, hefty fines, and the loss of your license, and should be treated with the gravity they deserve. Do not let your life be any further affected by this charge, and contact Truslow & Truslow at (803) 256-6276 to set up an appointment with one of our skilled Columbia DUI criminal defense attorneys or to have any questions you may have answered.

Regardless of Sobriety, DUI Offenders Face Stigma

It’s no secret that a DUI conviction can have seriously detrimental and long-lasting effects on a person’s life. When an individual is found guilty of driving under the influence, their personal and professional life is often jeopardized. The stigma that comes along with a DUI conviction can be harsh, as our society likes to circulate damaging mugshots and define people by their mistakes and darkest moments. The sad truth is that this stigma is also placed onto the people who have only been arrested for a DUI, whether the arrest was justified or not.

After decades of aggressive police enforcement, the rate of arrests for drunk driving has decreased significantly, while arrests for drugged driving, on the other hand, have increased. Unfortunately, innocent people are arrested every year for a DUI crime that they did not commit. These false arrests occur most commonly with charges of drugged driving, as the police have no concrete way of testing the driver for these substances. The rate of false arrests for driving under the influence is a topic that has yet to receive much media attention, but incidents in Cobb County, Georgia have recently shed some light on this issue.

Cobb County police officer Tracy Carroll has been dubbed the “drug whisperer” for his staggering number of drugged driving arrests. Officer Carroll, along with about 250 other police officers in Georgia, is a trained “drug recognition expert,” meaning he has completed a course that provides officers with a dozen observations that allow them not only to pronounce a driver is under the influence of drugs, but also to identify which drugs are in their system. Carroll has received numerous awards for his many DUI arrests, but many of these arrests have proven to be unwarranted. On at least three occasions, Carroll has pulled over drivers for swerving, and ended up arresting the drivers for being under the influence of marijuana. In these cases, the officer did not need any concrete proof of the driver being impaired, such as the smell or presence of the drug, but is legally allowed to rely on his drug recognition training. These individuals, who were in fact sober, were arrested for DUI and were forced to spend the night in jail, hire a lawyer, and suffer through months of financial and job-related stress from the false arrest. The charges were eventually dropped, but that does not in any way erase the troubles and stigma that these people faced for many months.

Contact an Attorney

When police officers are rewarded for high arrest rates, it is not surprising that false arrests will occur. Unfortunately, the victims of false arrests are unfairly subjected to the harsh and critical stigma that society often places on criminals. If you are facing DUI charges for any reason, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Truslow & Truslow. Our legal team will do everything we can to protect and defend your rights. To speak to an experienced DUI lawyer, contact our offices today by calling (803) 256-6276.

Amnesty Week Helps SC Drivers with Suspended Licenses

This Monday marked the first day of Driver Suspension Eligibility Week in South Carolina. Also known as amnesty week, March 13 through 17 offers drivers with suspended licenses a viable option to get back on the road. During amnesty week, drivers with certain license suspensions could be eligible to have their licenses reinstated. According to the South Carolina DMV, the following types of suspensions might qualify for eligibility:

  • Excessive points for someone under the age of 18
  • Operating an unlicensed taxi
  • Operating an uninsured vehicle that they did not own
  • Operating or allowing someone else to operate an uninsured vehicle
  • Driving under suspension, excluding alcohol or drug related convictions

If you fall under one of these categories, head to the DMV this week to see if you can get your license suspension cleared or reduced. Especially if one bad mistake caused your license to be suspended, this week could be a great opportunity to get you back on track. Even if your license suspension is not eligible for amnesty week, a qualified Columbia attorney could be able to help you have your suspension revoked. At Truslow & Truslow, we protect people who are facing the negative consequences of a single mistake. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 to see what we can do for you.

Court’s Decision Affirmed – License Suspension 5 Years after DUI Conviction is Unfair

In a recent decision by the South Carolina State Court of Appeals, it was confirmed that the suspension of Anna Wilson’s driver’s license five years after her DUI conviction was unlawful. Namely, the suspension violates standards of fundamental fairness and due process rights. The decision comes after an appeal made by the DMV, which claimed the circuit court’s original ruling—that Wilson’s delayed license suspension was unfair—went against precedent set by earlier cases. The legal analysis in response to the appeal found the circumstances of the case mentioned by the DMV were not the same as the Wilson case and, therefore, the case was not sufficient evidence to uphold Wilson’s delayed license suspension.

In November 2008, Anna Wilson was arrested for a DUI by the Irmo Police Department and subsequently convicted. Following her conviction, Wilson paid all the requisite fines and completed an Alcohol and Drug Safety Program. The next year, while trying to obtain a restricted driver’s license, Wilson was informed that the DMV had no record of her DUI conviction. In response, Wilson made calls to the Irmo Town Clerk and her insurance agent to inquire why the DMV did not receive her DUI conviction ticket. Many years later, after eventually receiving a certified copy of Wilson’s DUI ticket in 2014, the DMV told Wilson that her license would be suspended because of her conviction five years prior.

Wilson immediately brought action against the DMV and a circuit court ruled the five-year administrative lag between her conviction and license suspension would violate her rights to fundamental fairness and cause her undue hardship. However, the DMV countered by filing an appeal of the decision and citing a previous case, State v. Chavis, wherein William Chavis’ license suspension one year after his conviction was upheld because it was not found to violate any due process rights.

The appeals court ruled the Chavis case differs from Wilson’s in that she actively sought resolution from her license suspension in 2009 by calling the Irmo Town Clerk and her insurance agent to inquire about the status of her conviction. Wilson’s testimony additionally stated she would have served her suspension earlier, had she known about it. These factors differ from the State v. Chavis case, wherein the court did not find a due process violation because Chavis did not seek to have his license suspension promptly ordered. Rather, he waited quietly during the administrative lag with the hope that his suspension would be overlooked or unenforced. As a result, the court noted that Chavis did not suffer any prejudice or undue burden. Furthermore, the court found that Wilson would face undue hardship from the license suspension that Chavis did not, resulting in an affirmation of the original ruling.

Navigating all of the repercussions of a DUI conviction alone can feel impossible. With so many civil and criminal penalties associated with an intoxicated driving charge, the support and counsel of a DUI attorney is urgent. If you are facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to contact the legal team at Truslow & Truslow by calling our Columbia DUI defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow. Our highly skilled DUI lawyers can fight for your interests and support you through this tumultuous time.

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