SC DUI Attorney – Ignition Interlock Device – Another New DUI Law Coming Our Way

Here is another story about yet another new DUI bill being considered to harshen SC DUI laws even further. As a SC DUI attorney, I see clients weekly who have been wrongfully charged with DUI after merely having a drink at dinner or a beer with a friend. They are perfectly fine to drive. No accident occurs. No one is injured. Yet, they are arrested and jailed overnight for having alcohol on their breath. Next, if they dare to exercise their 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves and refuse the breathalyzer, they are immediately suspended from driving. They also face the permanent stigma of being a “drunk driver” and could even lose their job given the current hysteria about DUI. Even if the criminal charges are ultimately defeated, the driving suspension still applies. If convicted, the price of a first time DUI without accident or injury approaches nearly $10,000. You have fines, ADSAP costs, SR-22 insurance for 3 years. The legislature just “killed the moped exception” which will only make it even more difficult for people to get to their jobs after a DUI. And now, there is a bill to add an “ignition interlock” device to cars and further increase the overall costs to families. Seriously, this constant drumbeat of punative DUI legislation needs to stop. We realize it is fashionable to be “hard on DUI” in political circles. While these well intentioned bills do little to lower DUI rates, the real effect is to place significant added expenses onto already struggling families. A little temperment will be much more effective. People who drive drunk and cause accidents and injury should be punished, and harshly. However, let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water” and ruin those individuals who, at worst, make a questionable error in judgment while out with their spouses and/or friends.

At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP, our seasoned attorneys have over 70 years of combined trial experience in both civil and criminal courts.  We focus our criminal practice on DUI and DWI cases in both South Carolina and North Carolina and are available by mobile phone in the evenings, on weekends, and even holidays. Our lawyers are licensed in both states and are aggressive criminal trial attorneys.  We are not afraid to go to Court and often do. Don’t settle for a lawyer who only wants to reduce your DUI charges to reckless driving. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and personally discuss your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. Then call us today at  803-548-4444 or 877-374-5999 for a private consultation. Or visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com.

Bill Would Require Ignition Interlocks for First Offense DUIs in SC

Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition Interlock Device

By: Robert Kittle | WSAV News 3
Published: February 01, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. –South Carolina already requires drivers guilty of a second drunken driving offense to put ignition interlock devices on their cars. A driver has to blow into the machine to start the car, but if the ignition interlock detects an illegal alcohol level, the car won’t start.Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, wrote that law. Now, he’s sponsoring a bill that would require ignition interlocks after a first offense DUI.”By the time they’ve committed their second offense, they’ve hurt somebody,” he says. “So what we want to do is if you get a DUI conviction in South Carolina, we’re going to make you put an ignition interlock on your car and we’re going to monitor it and make sure you do what you’re supposed to do.”A state Senate subcommittee heard testimony in support of the bill Wednesday, but senators did not take a vote. They’re planning further debate next week and possible amendments. One possible change would be to also require ignition interlocks for anyone who refuses to take a breathalyzer test after being stopped on suspicion of DUI. Sen. Lourie expects the bill to be on the full Senate floor by the end of the month.Jeff Moore, executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, says he thinks the bill would save lives.”There are only two ways to stop the repeat offender from repeating, and that is either to put them in jail for a lengthy period of time and simply take their ability to drive away from them, or you put a device like this on their vehicle after the first charge is made,” he says.According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 15 states require ignition interlocks after the first offense. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington.) MADD says repeat DUIs are down an average of 67 percent in those states.And while Lourie says the bill would save lives, it also wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money. The offenders would have to pay to have the ignition interlocks installed on their vehicles.

 

SC NC Motorcycle Accident Lawyer – Motorcycle Fatalities Trending Downward

Good news for all motorcycle riders. Due to greater safety training and concerns, fatalities have been trending downward in recent years. Although the explanations for this trend vary, one continuing theme becomes clear. Better training and use of helmets saves lives. Hopefully, more states will implement changes on better motorcycle safety education. Helmet laws are a different matter. In this area, we remain proponents of rider choice. We realize, of course, that it is safer to wear a helmet in the event of an accident. However, many riders contend that a full helmet interferes with vision as well as hearing which can actually cause accidents. No matter what your view, please be careful on the road and always watch out for the inattentive car or truck driver. Be Safe. Get Home.

At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, all of our attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers with over 70 years combined experience. Whether it is criminal or civil, our litigators are regularly in Court fighting for our clients. Two of our firm’s partners, Art Aiken and Robert Reeves, are inducted lifetime members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Reeves has also been named one of the Top 100 lawyers for South Carolina in 2012 by the National Trial Lawyers Organization. And most recently, Mr. Reeves has been included in the SC Super Lawyers for 2012. Our attorneys include a former SC prosecutor, a former public defender, a former NC District Attorney intern, a former Registered Nurse (RN), and former insurance defense attorneys. As a result of their varied backgrounds, they understand the potential criminal, insurance, and medical aspects of complex injury cases. We would welcome an opportunity to sit down and personally review your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other law firm. Then call us today at 877-374-5999 for a private consultation. Or visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com.

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities

2010 Preliminary data

Prepared for Governors Highway Safety Association

By Dr. James Hedlund

Motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States continued to fall in 2010, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Motorcyclist fatalities dropped by 2.4% during the first nine months of 2010 across the 48 states and the District of Columbia that reported monthly data for these months.

Most states have quite complete traffic fatality counts for this period. Fatalities decreased substantially in the first quarter, decreased slightly in the second quarter, and rose slightly in the third quarter. While fatality data for the final months of 2010 are less complete in some states, motorcyclist fatalities for the full year nationwide are expected to be 4,376 or fewer, a decrease of at least 2% from the 4,465 fatalities of 2009.

About half the states are likely to have fewer motorcyclist fatalities in 2010 than in 2009, and about half are likely to have more. States with decreased motorcyclist fatalities suggested several explanations, including: higher priority for motorcycle safety education, publicity, and enforcement; increased motorcyclist training; and poor cycling weather. States with increased fatalities cited more motorcycle travel, lower helmet use, and good cycling weather.

The good news of 2010’s likely decrease in motorcyclist fatalities must be tempered with several disturbing observations. First, 2010’s predicted 2% decrease is far less than 2009’s 16% decrease. Second, the decrease was concentrated in the early months: fatalities dropped only slightly in the second quarter and rose in the third quarter. Next, it’s highly likely that motorcycle travel is increasing as the economy improves. Finally, use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets dropped an alarming 13 percentage points in 2010. To prevent an increase in motorcyclist fatalities in 2011, states should work to increase helmet use, provide motorcycle operator training to all who need or seek it, and reduce motorcyclist alcohol impairment and speeding.

Motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States dropped by 16% in 2009 to 4,465. This broke a chain of 11 consecutive years of increases that more than doubled motorcyclist fatalities from 2,116 in 1997 to 5,312 in 2008. Was the 2009 decrease the beginning of a long-term downward trend in motorcyclist fatalities similar to that from 1980 to 1997? Or was 2009 only a temporary bit of relief from the steady upward trend that began in 1997?

Charlotte DWI Lawyer – DWI Checkpoints – More Frequent – More Arrests

The attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, believe in providing as much information as possible to new clients seeking to learn what they are facing after being charged with DWI. As you will find out, the penalities for a conviction in NC are harsh, even for first time offenders. In fact, NC has some of the strictest DWI laws in the nation.  In addition to the stigma of being a convicted “drunk driver,” there can be significant consequences if convicted, including court costs, fines, SR-22 insurance, and possibly even jail time. We encourage you to review as much information as possible and then consult an experienced NC DWI attorney as early as possible. We would welcome an opportunity to help you during this critical time in your life. Call us today for a private consultation about your particular case at 704-499-9000. For even more information about our lawyers and their credentials, please visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com.

10 DWI arrests at northeast Charlotte checkpoint

By Steve Lyttle
Charlotte Observer

MORE INFORMATION

Ten motorists were arrested overnight at a DWI checkpoint in northeast Charlotte, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Sgt. David Sloan said CMPD and officers from the Cornelius, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville police departments conducted the checkpoint from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the 300 block of Eastway Drive. That is a short distance south of North Tryon Street.

In addition to the 10 arrests, police said they nabbed 21 people driving without a license and another 10 who were behind the wheel with a revoked license. In all, police said, they issued 62 charges and citations. And three people were arrested on outstanding warrants.

The other citations and charges:

Open container law violation: 4

Drug charges: 2

Under-age alcohol possession: 1

Other citations: 14

Arrest warrants: 3

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/01/27/2963741/10-dwi-arrests-at-checkpoint.html#storylink=cpy

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer – Consent to Search Car – How Far Can Police Take Your Permission

Mr. Welty below is an awesome writer, and we appreciate his articles about recent NC cases. In this most recent posting, he discusses two cases dealing with police searches of vehicles after a lawful stop and getting permission from the driver. As he explains, the Courts have now determined that virtually unfettered access will be tolerated as long as no damage is done to the vehicle or any restrictions are given with the initial consent. As a criminal defense attorney, it seems clear that your best course if stopped by police is to “remain silent” and politely decline any search request without a warrant.

Scope of Consent to Search a Vehicle

By Jeff Welty

Yesterday, I wrote about a pair of recent cases about weaving within a lane of travel. Today, I want to mention another pair of recent cases related to automobiles. Last month, the court of appeals decided, on the same day, two cases that address the scope of a suspect’s consent to search a vehicle. In State v. Lopez__ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __ (Feb. 21, 2012), an officer stopped a vehicle for speeding. One thing led to another, and the officer came to suspect that the driver was involved in the drug trade. The officer asked for, and received, consent to search the defendant’s vehicle. The officer didn’t just search the interior of the vehicle. He also opened the hood and “released several clips or latches” securing the air filter compartment, eventually finding cocaine in that compartment. The defendant argued that the officer’s conduct exceeded the scope of the consent, making an analogy between the air filter compartment and a closed container. The court of appeals ruled otherwise, stating that “both the hood and air filter compartment are part of the vehicle,” and observing that the defendant did not specifically exclude those areas from his consent.

The second case is State v. Schiro__ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __ (Feb. 21, 2012). In that case, officers stopped the defendant, obtained consent to search the defendant’s car, and eventually found a gun that had been used in a murder. The gun was found behind some trim in the vehicle’s trunk, and the defendant argued that his consent to search did not allow the search to be so intrusive. The trial court found that the vehicle’s rear quarter panels were fitted with carpet-over-cardboard interior trim and that the trim pieces “were loose,” suggesting that the search, while thorough, did no harm to the vehicle and was therefore permissible. The trial court also noted that the searching officer “was easily able to pull back the . . . trim.” The court of appeals agreed that, on those facts, the search did not exceed the scope of the defendant’s consent.

The Schiro court explicitly distinguished State v. Johnson, 177 N.C. App. 122 (2006), where “a plastic wall panel was removed by a law enforcement officer from the interior of defendant’s van, thereby facilitating discovery of . . . cocaine.” Johnson effectively holds that when a person gives an officer consent to search his vehicle, he should expect a “thorough” search but not “the destruction of his vehicle, its parts or contents.” The federal courts have likewise generally drawn the line at damaging the vehicle. Seee.g.United States v. Gonzalez, 512 F.3d 285 (6th Cir. 2008) (“Applying an objective reasonableness standard, we agree that [the defendant’s] consent to search could not be reasonably understood as authorizing [the officer] to damage the van.”); United States v. Alverez, 235 F.3d 1086 (8th Cir. 2000). Judges, lawyers, officers, and motorists should all be aware that consent to search a vehicle will normally be interpreted to include any part of the vehicle that can be accessed without damage.

SC DUI Attorney – Update: SC Supreme Court Orders DUI Backlogs Reduced – One Year Later

Nearly one year since the SC Supreme Court ordered the backlog of pending DUI charges be reduced, courts around the state have made significant progress in moving cases. In the counties where our firm practices, we have seen an improved streamlined process implemented, and cases are being called to trial much more quickly now. While this is welcomed news,  the practical effect is that DUI lawyers must investigate their cases and be prepared to litigate in a shorter time frame. It is even more important than ever that persons arrested for DUI retain experienced lawyers immediately so that they can get to work to fight a DUI prosecution. Better make sure your DUI attorney has enough time to get ready for court to protect you and your family.

At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP, our seasoned attorneys have over 70 years of combined trial experience in both civil and criminal courts.  We focus our criminal practice on DUI and DWI cases in both South Carolina and North Carolina and are available by mobile phone in the evenings, on weekends, and even holidays. Our lawyers are licensed in both states and are aggressive criminal trial attorneys.  We are not afraid to go to Court and often do. Don’t settle for a lawyer who only wants to reduce your DUI charges to reckless driving. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and personally discuss your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. Then call us today at  803-548-4444 or 877-374-5999 for a private consultation. Or visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com.

The push to close thousands of South Carolina’s DUI cases
Thousands of drunk driving cases may be closing soon after a South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice issues a statewide order.

News 12 at 11 o’clock / Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reporter: Amanda Perez

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C.—Thousands of drunk driving cases may be closing soon after a South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice issues a statewide order. Some of these cases are more than 10 years old, but officials say it could begin to affect you now. Some South Carolina troopers say the backlog of DUI cases can keep them tied up with the courts and off the highways.

Now courts across the state are focusing on getting these cases to the judge as quickly as they can–especially those in the summary courts right now. Public Safety Director Mark Keel says, “unfortunately South Carolina has…for the past couple of years…always been number one or two in the nation for impaired driving fatalities.” He says these DUI cases need to be cleared in order to make highways safer. It’s going to result in us not having to ring those door bells at night and tell somebody that someone in their family has been killed because of a drunk driver.

Last year alone, South Carolina Highway Patrol made nearly 16-thousand DUI cases. Mark says the state was bumped to number three in terms of drunk driving fatalities. “We’re not satisfied with that…we want to be at the bottom of this list,” he says.

In Aiken County, there are around 250 DUI cases in the last four months that have been rescheduled or are still pending. He says the solution is to prosecute these cases quickly. “We need to reduce the backlog. If we don’t reduce that backlog, we are not going to get to the cases that they’re making today.” He says if these cases are not properly prosecuted, then it becomes everyone’s problem. The sooner the cases are dealt with, the quicker some of the troopers are back out on the highways looking to prevent more DUI fatalities.

As for some of the older cases, the trooper may no longer be working in the state anymore or there may be a lack of evidence. If there’s no trial, then there’s no conviction and that means it can be dismissed. Public Safety wants to prevent this from happening.

Due to the cuts in state funding, some jurisdictions lost their DUI prosecutors. Recently, Public Safety worked to get grant money to get it back. The Director of Public Safety says they’re hoping for change and he believes this court order is one step closer to bringing awareness.