I have been practicing law since 1992. The early part of my career was focused on prosecuting DUI related crimes. However, in 1996 I decided I wanted to be in control of my own fate. I opened my own law practice in February 1996 and have been helping people since then. My office offers other services, but I have maintained a smaller firm for the purpose of making sure that our clients do not feel like they are lost in a big law firm.
For DUI clients we offer a free consultation to determine how best we can help the client traverse his or her hard times. If a client is in jail and can not make bond, we will visit the jails for consultations. My staff is fluent in both Spanish and English.
The difference between my office and other law offices is that I can give the client the prosecutor’s perspective as well as evaluating the case from a defense perspective. This allows the client make educated decisions and what are the best strategies to defend the client’s case.
South Carolina Law Overview
What is the legal limit in South Carolina?
The law of South Carolina states if a person has an alcohol content of .08% or above they are inferred to be Driving Under the Influence of alcohol. Notice that the law does not state that you are presumed under the influence. The inference of being under the influence allows a judge or jury to consider other matters before deciding whether the State has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Such things to consider are whether the machine is working correctly, whether the officer waiting the appropriate amount of time before blowing in to a breathalyzer machine, whether some other event has interfered with the taking of the test, etc. Therefore, a person who receives results of an alcohol content of .08% or above is not automatically guilty of the charge of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol.
Why can happen to me if I am found guilty of DUI?A person who pleads guilty or is found guilty will have short term and long term effects. The short term effects are a suspension of his or her license for a period of one year or more. A person can receive jail time and major fines. They are required to enter into a program called ADSAP and must complete the program before being allowed to obtain their license. This program can cost up to $2,000.00 in excess of any fines a person is required to pay.
Some of the long term effects are that the client will be required to carry a special insurance rider on their automobile insurance (SR-22) for a period of three years. Depending upon the insurance company, this special insurance can cost a client in excess of $5,000.00 or more over the three year period. If a client is caught driving during the suspension period of his or her drivers license, then a new charge of Driving Under Suspension can be brought. After a client receives three major traffic offenses over a three year period, the client will be deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender. This status will suspend the client’s license for an additional five (5) year period.
If a person is convicted of another DUI within (ten) 10 years, the penalties will be more expensive and larger amounts of time in jail. Finally, DUI’s can not be expunged from a client’s criminal record. The charge stays on a client’s record forever for a police agency to see, for a prosecutor to see, and for a potential employer to see.
Why do I need an attorney?
An attorney will assist you in making educated decisions as to your options for resolution of the charge(s). An attorney will assist you in making sure your constitutional rights have not been violated. An attorney can assist you in convincing a judge or jury that you were not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the arrest. An attorney will assist you in determining if the officer did anything that would open the door to have the charge of DUI dismissed by the Court. An attorney will help you by preventing you from assuming you are guilty just because you blew a .08% or above on the breathalyzer machine. Finally, with all of the short term and long term consequences associated with a charge of DUI, you never want to go into court without an attorney.
If you've been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime you need the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer. Contact Michael Matthews, Attorney of Law today.