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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.


Avoiding DUI and BUI Charges this Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend marks the start of what is known as the 100 Deadly Days of Summer – the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when traffic collisions and deaths traditionally spike in South Carolina.

For most of us, the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend will involve celebrations with friends and family, cookouts, and time on the water. However, be aware that it will also involve an increase in law enforcement presence including DUI check points and DNR patrolling which may result in DUI or Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charges.

South Carolina ranks in the top (or bottom) third among states in deaths from driving under the influence – with 6.59 deaths per 100,000 residents according to 2016 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Other key points from the study:

  • Drunk driving fatalities in South Carolina, despite having less than half the population of North Carolina, are almost on par with North Carolina.
  • Approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities involved a drunk driver.
  • About 12 in 100,000 people died in a motor vehicle traffic accident last year, and more than a quarter of those fatalities involved at least one driver under the influence.

At Truslow & Truslow, we want you to have a safe, fun weekend where the only concern is overcooking burgers or putting on enough sunscreen. We’d like to offer some tips to avoid a DUI or BUI:

  1. Have a designated driver, whether you’re in a car or boat. Consider Uber, Lyft, or any other reliable form of public transportation.
  2. Host your own party. No need to drive when the festivities are in your own back yard!
  3. Don’t text while driving/boating.

If you do find yourself at a police or DNR checkpoint, or have any other occasion to come into contact with law enforcement officers over the holiday weekend, here are some important things to know:

  • You can politely decline to answer any questions that the officer asks.
  • You can politely decline to take part in any Field Sobriety Test (FST).
  • You will almost certainly be recorded, both on audio and video, starting at the moment you are stopped by law enforcement. You should behave as if your grandmother was sitting next to you in church! You should always be polite and respectful to the officer. And if you are placed in a patrol vehicle for transport to a detention center, you will most likely be on video there as well.
  • If you are arrested for suspicion of DUI and/or taken to jail, you will be offered a breath test. Although you will almost certainly lose your license for a period of time if you refuse the breath test, you do not have to take the breath test. Refusing the breath test is almost always the best decision.

DUI or BUI convictions can have both immediate and long lasting consequences. You should always contact a criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself arrested for any criminal offense. If you are arrested, you have the right to an attorney.

At Truslow & Truslow, we have the experience and knowledge to defend our clients charged with DUI and BUI. If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense, contact us at (803) 256-6276 to begin working on your defense.


South Carolina’s Drunk and Drugged Driving Problem

According to a new story in The State, the instances of drunk and drugged driving on South Carolina roads are continuing to increase, and they pose a major threat to innocent drivers. Drugs that are commonly found in the systems of inebriated drivers include cocaine, oxycodone, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and a vast number of depressants. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol certainly increases the likelihood of vehicle crashes, and the increase in drunk and drugged driving has positioned South Carolina as number two in the nation for fatal drunk driving collisions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 1,015 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2016, 39% of which involved drivers who had a BAC level of .01 or higher. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were 14.2 alcohol-involved deaths per 100,0000 people in the 21-34 age group in 2012, while the national average for the same age range was only 6.7 deaths. South Carolina has nearly double the rate of deaths by drunk drivers in all age groups compared to the national averages. Mothers Against Drunk Driving ranks South Carolina 41st out of 50 in the nation for the instances of drunk driving in the state. In 2016, there were 331 drunk driving deaths, and 33% of traffic fatalities were caused by drunk driving.

Despite the high rates of drunk driving, the number of fatalities and injuries caused by drivers getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs is even more startling. Even though South Carolina has a relatively small population compared to many other states, the frequency of drug use in the state is unfortunately also on the rise. Alcohol.org reported that in the U.S., there has been a 304.7% increase in car fatalities related to fentanyl. Methamphetamine-related deaths are at an all-time high, with a 100% increase in fatal car accidents from 2007-2016. In 2016, the number of fatalities from Xanax was 173% higher than in 2007.

The substance in South Carolina that caused the most car accidents in 2016, however, was cocaine. This finding is abnormal compared to rest of the nation, as only two other states see cocaine as the top substance for lethal intoxication. The site concluded that there is a stark increase in the number of crashes that occur once bars close around 2 or 3 am on Saturdays. South Carolina is now considered the state with the second most police-reported, alcohol-related fatal car accidents, with six occurring per 100,000 residents in 2016. The state ranks eighth in drug-related fatal accidents, with drugs contributing to 2.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Contact Us

These sobering statistics prove 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. The Columbia lawyers at Truslow & Truslow are prepared to help you if you were injured in a car accident by a drunk or drugged driver. We believe you a have a right to pursue justice against the person who caused your injuries, pain, and suffering. Contact Truslow & Truslow today for a confidential consultation by calling (803) 256-6276 or by filling out our email form.


The Impact of a DUI Conviction on Your Life

A conviction for DUI can seriously impact your lifestyle. Not only will a DUI conviction appear in a criminal background check, but also it can result in jail time. Additionally, even a DUI charge can result in loss of your license to drive, regardless of whether you’ve been convicted. You only have to be suspected of DUI for a law enforcement and/or the DMV to suspend your driving privileges. For example: if you are pulled over and arrested under a suspicion of DUI and refuse to take the DataMaster (breath test), or you take a breath test and Your reading is determined to be higher than 0.15, law enforcement is permitted to seize your license. The effects of a DUI conviction are even further reaching and can follow you for the rest of your life.

If your license is taken for failure to take the breath test, or for blowing a 0.15 or higher, you have some options that can get you back on the road almost immediately. You may be eligible to receive a temporary alcohol license that allows you to drive pending your court date. After your license is taken, you must:

  1. Request an Administrative Hearing from the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (which requires submission of your Notice of Suspension and a filing fee);
  2. Pay a reinstatement fee at the DMV; and
  3. Provide the DMV with proof that you have properly requested an Administrative Hearing with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings.
A second option is to seek a Route Restricted License. A Route Restricted License may be available and, as the name suggests, will permit you to drive on certain restricted routes (for example: to and from work; to and from school).

Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI charge, you may not qualify for either type of license. Time is of the essence, as you only have 30 days to request the Administrative Hearing and the process may take some time. It is important that you retain an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible so that you can understand your rights and all options available to you. The Columbia DWI lawyers of Truslow & Truslow understand the impact that a DUI conviction can have on your life, and we will do everything in our power to help get the charges against you reduced or dropped. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 to schedule a confidential consultation today.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.

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