Stirling & O'Connell

Mount Pleasant Criminal Law Blog

DUI charges while operating a commercial vehicle

People are pulled over for drunk driving in many different situations, whether they are driving home after spending the evening in a bar or they are returning from a family celebration during a holiday weekend. Sometimes, drunk driving charges can be especially concerning, such as those who find themselves in this position while operating a commercial vehicle as part of their job duties. This can present serious ramifications, not only in terms of financial penalties and the loss of driving privileges but also with regard to their career. If you have been charged with DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, it is pivotal to explore your options.

There are many different types of commercial vehicles, and people often operate these vehicles while on the job. If you have been accused of drunk driving while you were working, you may face serious repercussions as a result of the allegations. Not only could you lose your current job, but you may struggle to find employment in this field in the future. Moreover, your colleagues, friends and family members may be especially critical of you as a result of the case.

What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer test?

When you are enjoying a night out with your friends, the last thing you want is to end the night with criminal charges. Anyone driving through the state of South Carolina should know what the law expects from them. Not every state is the same when it comes to getting pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence.

When a driver gets pulled over by a cop, should they accept or refuse a breathalyzer test? Everyone has the right and ability to say “no” to a breathalyzer test. However, state laws place consequences on those who choose to do so.

Helping your teen deal with a drug case

In a previous post, we explored some of the ways in which drug charges can affect parents. These charges can also have an impact on parents when their child is accused of a drug-related offense. Unfortunately, teenagers may find themselves in this position for all sorts of reasons, including peer pressure, an addiction that resulted from emotional problems and experimental behavior or unfamiliarity with the consequences of a particular offense. As a parent, it is important for you to protect your child's future by doing everything you can to help them through this turbulent time.

Whether your teen is facing charges due to drug possession, drug paraphernalia, selling drugs or some other drug-related case, you may have a variety of options on the table. It can seem daunting to deal with drug charges, especially when your child's future is at stake. That said, there may be a number of ways you can improve their chances of securing a more favorable end result in the courtroom. For example, you could be able to lessen the impact of the charges (or even help them avoid penalties altogether) by uncovering and bringing up certain details surrounding the allegations.

Can officers search for drugs during a traffic stop?

If law enforcement officers pull you over for an alleged traffic violation in South Carolina, you should know your rights if they then want to search your car for drugs or anything else.

As reported in the Washington Post, officers do not have the automatic right to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. Instead, they can only legally do the following:

  • Ask you for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, which you must give them
  • Investigate whatever alleged traffic violation they stopped you for
  • Check with their dispatcher to find out if you have any outstanding arrest warrants and arrest you if you do
  • Write the traffic ticket(s) for whatever alleged violation(s) they believe you committed

Defining white collar cime

Were one to ask people in Mount Plesant to define "white collar crime," the responses would likely be reflections of the sophisticated hijinks they see portrayed in movies or on TV. This comes from the various interpretations of the term. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the term was first used in 1939 by sociologist Edwin H. Sutherland. He described it as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." From this definition comes two assumptions: that all white collar criminals greedy, already well-off vagabonds, and that their criminal activities are only directed at large businesses and organizations. 

Some might say that law enforcement agencies perpetuate this idea. Indeed, were one to go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's webpage defining white collar crime, the first example given is corporate fraud. Yet this likely has less to do with supporting an establishment opinion than the fact that such fraud typically produces massive financial losses that can impact a large number of victims. For this reason, the FBI indeed defines investigating corporate fraud as one of its top priorities. 

The walk and turn test

Drivers in South Carolina who have been arrested and charged with an offense for suspected driving under the influence may well have been asked to participate in select tests before they were formally arrested. These are referred to as field sobriety tests. According to, these roadside tests are designed to provide an officer with enough evidence to support placing a driver under arrest by showing that they may potentially be impaired.

One of the tests used is called the walk and turn test. It requires you to take nine steps in a straight line one direction and then pivot around and return along the same line. Every step must be taken by touching the front foot's heel to the back foot's toe. You must also count each step out loud as you take it. You are not allowed to use your arms to help maintain your balance. In fact, your arms must be kept firmly by the sides of your body.

What to do after getting a DUI on vacation

The beaches and coastal towns of South Carolina experience a wave of tourism in the springtime, comprised of tourists on spring break or those just looking for a break from cooler weather. However, the vacation can come to a screeching halt after an arrest for driving under the influence.

Getting a DUI under any circumstances can be stressful and devastating. However, getting a DUI while out of state can add an additional layer of complications into the mix. Will you have to stay in South Carolina? How will this affect your driver’s license?

How could current S.C. state legislation affect first-time DUIs?

Five years ago, the South Carolina state legislature passed a law named after a six-year-old girl who died in a drunk driving accident in 2012. Under the law, if authorities arrest you on drunk driving charges for the first time, and your blood alcohol level is greater than 0.15 according to a breathalyzer test, you must have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle at your own expense. The device analyzes your blood alcohol content when you blow into it and prevents you from starting your car if it tests over a certain limit. 

According to the News and Observer, some lawmakers in the state legislature do not feel that the current law does enough to reduce the risk of dying in a drunk driving accident in South Carolina, which is the second-highest such risk in the nation, and have introduced legislation that would require installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle of everyone charged with drunk driving, whether a first-time or repeat DUI, even if later exonerated by the court or while a trial date is still pending.

Concurrent 10-year sentences on drug charges for S.C. man

Despite the best intentions of government and law enforcement, the criminal justice system often falls far short of the goal of rehabilitating those convicted of crimes. While recidivism rates in South Carolina reflect a downward trend over the past 10 years, some people continue to shuffle back and forth among prison, probation and jail. A 24-year-old man from South Carolina provides a sobering illustration of this pattern. Already with a long history of criminal charges dating back to at least 2012, the young man recently pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking cocaine and resisting law enforcement. A judge sentenced him to serve two concurrent 10-year sentences, one for each count. 

The charges stem from an incident that reportedly took place in December 2016, at a time when the young man was on probation. He was driving his vehicle in the parking lot of an outlet mall in Bluffton, South Carolina, when a law enforcement officer pulled him over. It is unclear what initially prompted the traffic stop, but while the officer was standing next to the open driver's side door, the man allegedly trapped him by putting the car in reverse, dragging the officer through the parking lot and, according to the prosecutor on the case, putting both the officer and bystanders in the area in danger. The extent of the officer's injuries is unclear, but he reportedly fired several shots at the driver after pulling his gun. EMS personnel allegedly found 48 grams of cocaine on the driver's person while treating him for his gunshot wounds.

Verifying fraudulent intent

Popular media often portrays white collar crime as being the sophisticated (almost glamorous) actions of intellectual masterminds aimed as stealing millions from large corporations. In actuality, however, white collar crime can involve activities that most would classify as mundane. In fact, many come to us here at the Stirling & O'Connell law office completely shocked that others viewed their actions as being fraudulent. If you find yourself in the same situation, then you no doubt will want to know whether a financial loss or injury is all that is needed as proof of fraudulent activity. 

If you transact a professional or personal deal that results in a loss on the part of your partner, it may be reasonable to assume that they will upset. Yet their perception of your actions alone is not enough to prove you acted fraudulently. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, it must be proven that your intent was to indeed cause harm to others with a designed fraudulent scheme in order to be guilty of fraud. If there is no element of intent present, then the only assumptions may then be that you were obviously acting in good faith. 

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Stirling & O'Connell Law Office

749 Johnnie Dodds Blvd
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Mount Pleasant, SC 29464-3070

Phone: 843-779-9443
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