If you think you can only be charged with DUI if you were drunk driving, that’s not the case. Our Orangeburg DUI attorneys have handled plenty of DUI cases where drugs were involved. Here, we’ll try to answer your questions about driving under the influence of drugs in South Carolina.
The DUI Laws in South Carolina Apply to Alcohol and Drugs
If you ever read the South Carolina Code of Laws §56-5-2930, you will find that you can be arrested for DUI for both alcohol and drugs. In fact, the statute is rather clear when it says that you can be charged with DU for either substance.
The statute specifically states that you can be charged with DUI if you’re “under the influence of any other drug… that…materially and appreciably impair” your ability to drive safely.
The Police Still Must Show They Had Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over
Even if you are ultimately proven to be driving under the influence of drugs, the cops still need reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. They must believe that you are violating the law in some respect.
Your Orangeburg DUI attorney can certainly challenge the lawfulness of the traffic stop. However, it doesn’t take much for the State to prove the officers met this burden. You’re much better off trying to prove you weren’t impaired rather than challenging the traffic stop itself.
Your Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orangeburg Can Challenge the Traffic Stop
In order to prove that the cops didn’t have reasonable suspicion, your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg will need strong evidence. For example, if they can demonstrate that you were only pulled over because you pulled out of a bar parking lot, it may be enough.
Just keep in mind that it’s very difficult to convince the court that the traffic stop wasn’t lawful. In fact, if your Orangeburg DUI attorney pushes this issue too far, it may just irritate the judge.
What Are the Signs That Someone is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
When police officers are on patrol, they always keep an eye out for impaired drivers. This is especially true at night. There aren’t a whole lot of things the police officers do after 10 or 11 o’clock at night.
Some of the factors that may cause them to pull you over include the following:
- You’re swerving in and out of traffic.
- You fail to stop at a red light or drive right through it.
- You’re driving well under the speed limit.
- You are driving with the windows way down in winter.
- You have the radio blaring even though it’s late.
- You are driving without your lights on.
If the police notice any of these things, there’s a good chance you may be pulled over.
The Cops Will Also Look to See if There Are Drugs or Paraphernalia in Plain View
In addition to observing your demeanor, the cops will also look around your vehicle. If they find any drugs or drug paraphernalia, they will have you exit the car. They will ask you what the substances are.
You have two options. You can admit that they are, in fact, drugs. Or you can wisely keep silent. All you’re really required to do is answer their questions about your identity. Once they have seen drugs in the car, you’re going to be arrested. Don’t give them any help in proving you’re guilty.
Can the Officers Test You for Drugs at the Scene?
Normally, when someone is pulled over for DUI, the cops will have them take a breathalyzer test. This won’t work for drugs. They may have you take a breathalyzer anyway. However, they won’t have any tests on-scene for drugs.
While there may not be any tests per se, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The officers will ask you to submit to a blood or urine test. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days.
The Officer May Be a Drug Recognition Expert
While there is no on-site test for drugs, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If the officer is a drug recognition expert, they will try to determine if you’re under the influence of drugs.
A drug recognition expert (DRE) is an officer specially trained to recognize the signs of drug use. The drugs they can allegedly recognize include the following:
- Central Nervous System Depressants – Valium, Xanax, Klonopin
- Central Nervous System Stimulants – Cocaine, Crack, Methamphetamine
- Hallucinogens – Mushrooms, LSD, MDMA
- Narcotic Analgesics – Heroin, Opiates
- Dissociative Anesthetics – PCP, Ketamine
Can Your Orangeburg DUI Attorney Challenge the Findings of the Drug Recognition Expert?
If the DRE believes you’re driving under the influence of drugs, you will be arrested for DUI. The good news is that your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg can challenge their findings.
A human being cannot look at you and possibly know with any certainty that you’ve used drugs. They certainly cannot pinpoint the type of drug you’ve used. Your Orangeburg DUI attorney will have experts testify to this effect.
Many People Consider the Work of a DRE to Be “Pseudo Science”
For the most part, the opinions of DREs are not considered expert opinions. In the legal community, these officers are considered to be subscribers to a pseudo-science, not actual science. Their testimony should not be taken as fact.
What your Orangeburg DUI attorney can do is point out the deficiencies in the officer’s statement. The only problem will be if your blood or urine tests come back positive for drugs. Even then, your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg will argue that you were not impaired at the time of your arrest.
Just Because You’re Under the Influence of Drugs Does Not Mean You’re Impaired
One of the tricky things about a DUI arrest based on drugs is that there’s no way to say with any certainty that the driver was impaired. A person can use certain drugs and still operate their vehicle in a safe manner.
It’s not like with a normal DUI where there is a clear demarcation line of a .08 BAC. Your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg will use whatever they can to show that you were perfectly able to operate your motor vehicle safely.
It’s a Good Idea to Contact a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orangeburg Immediately
When our Orangeburg DUI attorneys first meet with a client, they seem stunned that they’ve been arrested for DUI. Most people assume that you can only be charged with DUI if you’re drunk. However, that isn’t the case.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Orangeburg have handled our fair share of DUI cases involving driving under the influence of drugs. We treat them almost the same way as those cases involving alcohol.
Knowing what’s ahead of you, it’s in your best interest to at least talk to an experienced Orangeburg DUI attorney. That’s your best chance of having the charges against you reduced or dismissed outright. Call as soon as possible, even from jail if you can.