Although a misdemeanor, being charged with “drunk driving” is a very serious offense. Even if it is your first one and you did not cause an accident or injure anyone, the stigma and long-term consequences are quite harsh. If convicted or you agree to plead guilty, you will lose your license and can potentially lose your job.
What’s more, you will never be able to get reasonable automobile insurance rates once you have a prior DUI on your permanent record. For more information about the DUI offenses and DUI defense particular to South Carolina and North Carolina, see SC DUI Defense and NC DWI Defense.
The law firm of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP offers you a a team of criminal defense attorneys, including a former SC prosecutor and a former SC public defender. We offer attorneys licensed in both South Carolina and North Carolina.
In South Carolina, we represent individuals statewide, but primarily those charged in York County (Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Indian Land, Lake Wylie, Clover, Rock Hill), Lancaster County, Richland County (Columbia, West Columbia, Blythewood), Lexington County, and Chester County. In North Carolina, we service all of Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, Pineville, Lake Norman, Huntersville) and Gaston County (Gastonia, Kings Mountain, Dallas).
SC DUI vs. NC DWI Laws
Even though we are neighboring states, the only similarity in the laws is the presumptive legal BAC level of 0.08. All other facets, including how cases are handled and tried, are completely different. That is why it is so important to be represented by experienced criminal defense DUI attorneys from each state.
There are three critical distinctions between South Carolina and North Carolina:
1) In South Carolina, cases are tried before a jury. In North Carolina, the first trial is in front of a judge. If you lose, you can appeal and get a new trial, this time in front of a jury. Judges are appointed by the Governor in South Carolina. They are publicly elected in North Carolina.
2) In South Carolina, all police vehicles are required to have in-car video. There are also specific requirements regarding when the video must be activated and what must be done in front of it. If these rules are not followed, cases can be dismissed on statutory grounds. In North Carolina, video cameras are starting to become more available. However, at trial, we usually have only the officer’s testimony based on a police report. Given the role of video evidence at trial, special considerations must be taken in preparing a DUI defense.
3) In South Carolina, the arresting officer and prosecutor have the authority to dismiss or reduce a DUI charge. A decision to do so would be based on problems raised with the arrest or evidence. In North Carolina, assistant district attorneys try DWI cases, and there is no reduction option. It is “all or nothing.”
Because the laws are so different, it is critical that you retain a criminal defense attorney licensed and experienced in that State. Compare our lawyers’ credentials. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and review your case. Call us today for a private consultation.
DUI Attorney Videos:
- Our Approach to DUI Defense: the Former Prosecutor’s Perspective
- Breathalyzer Accuracy: DUI Defense Attorney Tyler Burns’ Take
- The Importance of SC DUI Incident Site Videos