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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.

Roadside Sobriety Tests and Breathalyzer Tests in South Carolina

In early December, Clemson University economics professor and Columbia resident, Ronald David Lamie, was arrested for a DUI after his vehicle was spotted repeatedly crossing the center line along a Kershaw County road. After two officers stopped Lamie and noticed the strong scent of alcohol coming from his vehicle, the deputy performed a roadside sobriety test and determined he was severely intoxicated. Later, Lamie was brought to a detention center and took a breathalyzer test, confirming that his BAC was 0.15, well over the legal limit.

In the event that you are pulled over by an officer under suspicion of driving intoxicated, many are confused as to whether they would be allowed to refuse a chemical test that would determine their level of sobriety. While all states differ in how they treat DUI laws, most states—including South Carolina—have an “implied consent” law, wherein refusal to take a chemical test will result in suspension of your driver’s license. Although there are many factors to consider when determining whether you would be better off refusing a chemical test in a DUI arrest, a well versed Columbia DUI lawyer can help guide you through this process.

Penalties for Refusing a Chemical Test

Even though logic follows that refusing a sobriety or chemical test will give the court no hard proof of your intoxication, not taking these tests generally do not help your case. In fact, prosecution can use your refusal as evidence that you were indeed intoxicated. The penalties for refusing a chemical test when pulled over include:

  • First offense – 6 month license suspension
  • Second offense – 9 month license suspension
  • Third offense – 1 year license suspension

It should also be noted that just because you do not take a chemical test does not mean that you will not receive a conviction. Jury members may think that if you truly were not intoxicated, you would not be so hesitant to take a breathalyzer test. The best thing to do in these circumstances would be to consult with a lawyer.

Contact a DUI Lawyer in Columbia

Driving while intoxicated will not only result in a criminal record, but the stigma associated with a conviction could impact your career, reputation, and relationships. While the repercussions of a DUI are difficult to cope with and this may present a stressful time, you do not have to face these uncertainties alone. Don’t hesitate to contact the highly skilled DUI attorneys at Truslow & Truslow by calling our Columbia offices at (803) 256-6276 for help in your case.

How does the state of South Carolina define DUI?

Like in other states, South Carolina considers drunk driving a serious violation; offenders not only endanger themselves but also the lives of innocent drivers and pedestrians around them. Drivers might get a ticket or, more likely, authorities could arrest and further penalize them if they have been found out to be under the influence of intoxicants past the legal limit. Drivers should know the following information on how the state define DUI:

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 percent or above is considered illegal
  • It is illegal for drivers whose age is below 21 years old to drive if their BAC is 0.02 percent or above
  • It is illegal for Commercial Drivers License bearers to drive a vehicle if their BAC is 0.04 percent or above

Drivers should know that they may need to settle hefty fines or they may serve imprisonment if authorities find out that they are driving a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. More serious penalties could be imposed for offending drivers who have been involved in vehicular accidents that resulted in personal injuries.

If you have been arrested for DUI, the Columbia attorneys at Truslow & Truslow may work for you. Find out how today by calling (803) 256-6276.

Administrative penalties imposed to DUI offenders in SC

Vehicle drivers may face administrative penalties in South Carolina if authorities catch them driving a vehicle while under the influence (DUI). DUI offenders are penalized because they endanger other motorists and themselves when they decide to drink and drive.

Administrative penalties are often imposed on DUI violators or those who refuse to undergo chemical testing and have decided to argue the case. For first-time DUI offenders, their license could be suspended for six months—longer if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.15 percent or more. Second and third time DUI offenders, on the other hand, could have their drivers’ license suspended for a longer period of time. DUI offenders will then need to finish a course from the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) and should settle a $100 fee to have their license validated again. DUI violators will also be required to secure SR22 insurance for three years once they have their license back following a suspension.

DUI offenders should also note that aside from administrative penalties, criminal penalties could also be imposed upon them if their actions resulted in serious physical injuries or property damage. The Truslow & Truslow lawyers in Columbia understand the repercussions of a DUI. If you are facing such a charge, call us today at (803) 256-6276 to find out how we may work for you.

Lexington woman facing DUI charges after fatal car accident

Police are blaming a car accident that killed one person last Thursday night on a woman they say was intoxicated.

According to a report released by the Lexington Police Department, the accident was caused when alleged drunk driver Nicole Marie Wilson, 29, drove through a red light and crashed into another vehicle that was passing through the intersection on the 4200 block of Sunset Boulevard. The accident occurred shortly after 11:00 p.m.

Wilson is facing a charge of felony driving under the influence involving death and has been placed into the Lexington County Detention Center.

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