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Defense available for those accused of a DUI

Nothing is worse for a motorist than seeing lights in their rearview mirror. A driver might be under the impression that it will be a simple traffic stop for speeding. If this is the case, he or she is hoping to get away with just a warning. But if a police officer suspects that a motorist is under the influence of alcohol, he or she will have to ensure much more during the traffic stop. Whether this is a field sobriety test or a breath test, if the evidence collected against a South Carolina driver causes an officer to believe that he or she is under the influence of alcohol, the driver could be charged with a DUI.

There are different defense strategies available to those accused of drunk driving, and depending on a person's circumstances, he or she might have several defense opportunities. Additionally, accused drivers could assert an affirmative defense or a defense action.

With regards to an affirmative defense, motorists have five types they could make. He or she could claim necessity, meaning that they had to drive in order to prevent a greater evil. A driver could also assert duress, which would mean that they were driving to avoid serious injury or death.

Entrapment is another affirmative defense, which occurs when an officer encourages a motorist to become intoxicated and then drive while under the influence of alcohol. Mistake in fact could be asserted, which is when a driver claims that they honestly believed that they were not intoxicated. Finally, a driver could assert involuntary intoxication, meaning that alcohol was ingested without their knowledge.

Other defense options include an improper stop, improper administration or accuracy of a field sobriety test, improper administration or accuracy of a breath test whether portable or standard, rising BAC over time due to the length of the traffic stop, asserting that you were not the driver of the vehicle or improper police actions, such as evidence or testimony that violates the rights of the defendant.

While asserting a legal defense against a DUI charge might see overwhelming, it is a step that motorists should take. It could ultimately help a driver avoid serious penalties by reducing or dismissing the charges against them.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Defenses to Drunk Driving," accessed August 20, 2017

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