Driving under the influence is one of the most common criminal charges made in South Carolina. It is an accusation that is made against many people who believed they would never face a criminal charge in their life. For everyone from Dean’s List college students to hardworking executives to grandparents. It is a shocking event to be pulled over by law enforcement and told that you have committed a crime that carries painful public exposure and long term consequences. Most are stunned at how little alcohol can lead to these accusations or shocked to realize that their normal prescription medications have led to their arrest.
Despite the fact that DUI is such a common charge, it is an area of law that contains a great deal of complexity. The law has undergone major changes in the last decade, and continues to evolve on a daily basis. These changes create a variety of technical and factual defenses that will be known to an attorney who practices extensively in this area. Because DUI law changes so regularly, it is important to find a lawyer who keeps pace with its evolution and is prepared to examine every aspect of the prosecution’s case.
Some people think that just because they blew into a machine and a number came out that they are guilty of DUI. What they may not know as they are being offered a test is that the results can have a dramatic impact on the type of punishment they face. While the results of any test are important to a case, these results are just part of what should be considered when evaluating the charge. Just as critical are things like witnesses to a person’s behavior before they encountered police, the quality of the job done by law enforcement, and the accused’s own background, abilities and limitations. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be in a position to take all of these things into account when evaluating an accused person’s options and best interests.
As devastating as the criminal consequences of a DUI conviction can be, equally important are the many so called “collateral consequences” which accompany such a conviction. Driver’s license suspensions can result from testing or conviction and can last from a few weeks to years. A competent defense attorney will not only be able to review these suspensions, but also any eligibility a person has for driving privileges and how to reinstate their license. Substance abuse classes costing between hundreds and thousands of dollars can be triggered by a variety of administrative and criminal outcomes. Insurance costs can skyrocket based upon DUI conviction, and these rates can extend for years. Finally, convictions for multiple offenses can trigger additional penalties and long term consequences for both criminal exposure and license suspension.
From the outset of his career in 1996, Gary Lemel has been actively involved in the trial and defense of persons charged with Driving Under the Influence. In that time, he has seen cases made from both sides, having worked as a prosecutor in a court that had an extensive DUI caseload. He has handled DUIs based on alcohol, on legal and illegal drugs, and on a combination of these. He has represented people at all levels of DUI practice, including those charged with Felony DUI involving Great Bodily Injury and Death. He has been a presenter on changes in the DUI laws at statewide legal conferences. He currently enjoys a robust and busy practice defending those charged with DUI at McKinney, Tucker and Lemel.