Stopped for Suspicion of DUI? You Have Rights.

20100419_FieldSobrietyWalkLine_SCDPS

Is it illegal to have a beer after work and drive home? That depends. South Carolina law prohibits operating a motor vehicle while “under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired.”

In most cases, a beer wouldn’t raise a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit, but everyone metabolizes alcohol differently and at different rates.

If you are stopped by law enforcement in South Carolina and are suspected of being under the influence, you have certain rights. You may be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. Again, you have certain rights.

Greenville attorney Kim Varner with Varner and Segura talks about some of those rights. His key piece of advice to drivers facing a DUI-related traffic stop or test is simple. “Respectfully tell the officer, ‘I want to consult with a lawyer prior to making any decision.’”

 

NOTE: South Carolina’s DUI and related laws are not reproduced here in their entirety, and any wording cited above may not be identical. Nothing above is offered as legal advice, and nothing above should be construed as a substitute for retained legal advice. Should you find yourself in need of professional legal services or require legal representation, contact an attorney like Kim Varner with Varner and Segura. Visit Varner and Segura on the web at www.VarnerAndSeguraOnline.com or call (864) 271-2232.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: SC Department of Public Safety

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Could a divorce action be the key changing the law on same sex marriage in South Carolina?

FOX Carolina 21
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) –

A lawsuit has been filed in Greenville County Family Court that one woman’s lawyer hopes could change laws against same-sex marriage laws in South Carolina – and it’s all due to a divorce.

Cathy Swicegood, the plaintiff in the case, said that since the dissolution of her 13-year relationship with another woman, she has not been able to get COBRA insurance, which would be entitled to heterosexual couples who divorce.

“On Nov. 8 of last year, out of the blue, she walked in and said she had feelings for someone else and wanted me out of the house,” Swicegood said.

Swicegood’s insurance was previously with her partner’s employer, who offers same-sex benefits, she said.

Swicegood’s attorney John Reckenbeil told FOX Carolina that under federal law, a “qualifying event” has to happen to force COBRA coverage, such as divorce, termination or death. He described the relationship between Swicegood and her now-ex-partner as a “common law marriage” that has since soured.

Reckenbeil said that since South Carolina doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, that qualifying event can’t happen, and his client can’t get COBRA. Reckenbeil further alleged that Swicegood is being denied equal protection under the law.

Swicegood’s suit, filed Thursday, seeks a divorce from her former partner, though Reckenbeil said that, under state law, that’s likely not to happen.

Reckenbeil said that he has issued a formal notification to the South Carolina Attorney General. He added that he also plans on filing with the South Carolina Court of Appeals and on the federal level when and if his client is denied the divorce.

Greenville attorney Grant Varner, who has no direct involvement in the case, said that it appears, from the suit, that Swicegood and her partner crossed every “T” and dotted every “I” to show that they were a married couple – except without getting the marriage license.

And with that detail, Varner said the case could completely change the way South Carolina legally sees marriage.

“It’s entirely possible that this case has the perfect mixture of elements to change law,” Varner said.

FOX Carolina tried reaching out to the defendant in the case, Swicegood’s ex, but was not successful.

Copyright 2014 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Article written by Derek Dillinger

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New Bill may require Ignition Interlock for 1st time DUI offenders.

FOX Carolina 21

 

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) –

When the blue lights flashed and sirens rang out, Terry Taylor said he saw his son lying in a road.

“It was very emotional. You’re looking at your child lying on a gurney covered in blood and mud,” Taylor said.

Back in 2000, he said a drunk driver hit his son and three other teammates on the Wade Hampton High School track team as they ran along State Park Road in Greenville County. And now, he’s a community action site leader for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also known as MADD.

“I got involved because I saw a lot of pain out there, a lot of people just grieving. They lost loved ones. I was fortunate I didn’t,” Taylor said.

And that’s why members with the organization support ignition interlocks. It’s a breathalyzer installed in repeat offenders’ cars as part of their convictions. If a driver blows and the device reads they are drunk, the car won’t start.

“It’s part of the deal. It’s part of the solution process,” Taylor said.

And now some state senators are looking to expand the breathalyzer program. Right now, repeat offenders are required to have them in their cars. But, in bill S-137, some lawmakers want to require first time DUI offenders who blow a .12 or higher to have the device installed.

“Alcohol affects everyone differently,” Grant Varner said. He’s a lawyer in Greenville who represents DUI clients. “Now magically they’ve pulled a number out of the air and said at .12 everyone should have this device.”

He said the ignition interlock system doesn’t work because drivers beat the breathalyzer.

“I still get just as many DUI 2nd, 3rd, 4th and above come into my office as I ever have,” Varner said.

But when Terry said he sees his son, he’s grateful and believes ignition interlock can put the brakes on drunk drivers.

Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Story by Jennifer Phillips, Fox Carolina

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