Conway Magistrate Judge Avoids DUI Charge
Driving under the influence in South Carolina is illegal no matter who you are, but everybody gets their day in court. A magistrate judge from Horry County was cited back in April by a Myrtle Beach patrolman after he performed a U-turn on a two-lane road. He was later released after posting $997 bond for the drunk driving charge and $133 for driving left of the center line. At a late June court date, the judge forfeited his bond on the basic traffic offense, but the DUI charge was later dismissed by prosecutors in the 12th Circuit Solicitor's office, who did not comment to the media. The judge's attorney called the episode "an embarrassment," but said that the DUI case was weak and characterized the result as the "picture-perfect way justice should work." He was not aware if his client was offered a field sobriety test, but said, "the tests are only accurate 70 to 80 percent of the time anyway."The case was transferred to a different circuit for purposes of neutrality, and he received a resolution in less than three months. Back in Horry County, the Chief Magistrate announced that the judge would soon resume his docket of traffic and jury court cases.
Prepare All Cases for Trial
It is almost always a good idea for accused drunk drivers to contest the charges they face. The stakes are high: under South Carolina law, a first DUI conviction can be punished by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of more than $2000. Add to that a six-month drivers license suspension, enrollment in drug and alcohol safety awareness classes, inflated insurance costs, and a permanent criminal record, and a smart and strategic defense becomes a wise choice.
In addition to the fallibility of field sobriety tests, there are many aspects of a DUI arrest that demand close legal scrutiny. An officer must be able to articulate sufficient reasons to have made a stop in the first place, and must carry out the investigation without invading the driver's constitutional rights. Empirical evidence of blood-alcohol content, such as Breathalyzers, is not foolproof, but challenging technical results is a complex matter.
An experienced criminal defense trial lawyer can help you understand the charges, explain your legal options and assess your chances for a positive result. Preparing all cases for trial, whether the case goes to trial or not, is the best strategy to achieve success in your case.