Justin Lovely: Hi, everyone. It’s attorney Justin lovely here with the Lovely Law Firm. And we’re here for another episode of some live action with the Carolina Justice Report, sponsored by the Lovely Law Firm and South Carolina Law TV. I’m here, of course, with my partner and wife, the lovely Ms. Amy Lawrence Lovely.
Amy Lawrence: That’d be me.
Justin Lovely: So we’re going to talk about another area of law that we practice and that is prevalent here in South Carolina, that we think we do a pretty good job at. I would say we do. Go to see our five-star reviews.
Amy Lawrence: Our clients would think so. Yeah.
Justin Lovely: Go to see our five-star reviews, and see what others can say about us. But that’s DUI defense. So, Amy, tell us about some DUI.
Amy Lawrence: Well, let’s preface this entire conversation by saying we do not condone drinking and driving at all.
Justin Lovely: Absolutely not.
Amy Lawrence: Yeah. We live in a age where you can pull up your phone and hit a button and there will be a car that pulls up and gets you and takes you home safely. We hope. And so we do not condone drinking and driving. But if you find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DUI, we can help. And so … yeah, go ahead, babe.
Justin Lovely: I was going to say, here’s the first question we always get is what’s … everybody hears, they get scared, they go, “Oh, I got a DUI,” but what is the actual penalty for DUI, Amy? And you can kind of talk about the first, second, third, if you got multiple DUI’s, or how you blow. Go ahead. Talk about it.
Amy Lawrence: So all the laws in South Carolina changed in I think it was February of 2009, and 10 years seems like a long time. But in the lane of law, that’s not long at all. And so what the new statute did, in 2009, it gave us a tiered effect and a tiered penalty. And so it’s whether you were charged with a first offense, a second offense, a third offense. And then what did you blow? Did you blow less than .08 or less than .10? Was it a refusal? All these different things. And so those penalties range between a fine of $992 up to seven years in prison, with a minimum of three years, depending if it was like a third or fourth or subsequent offense, and then what you blew. But it can go all the way from just a fine of $992 up to seven years.
Justin Lovely: Right. And that’s, of course, how high you blow, multiple DUI’s. There’s a lot of factors, and we go through every factor we think you-
Amy Lawrence: A ton of factors, and if you go on our website, you’ll be able to see that tiered effect and where you fall into that ballgame of what you’ve been charged with.
Justin Lovely: Right. Right. And every case is different, of course. Now, the collateral consequences of a DUI and how they will affect your life, other than these basic black and white penalties. It’s probably the most important aspect of a case.
Amy Lawrence: Yeah. I mean-
Justin Lovely: So let’s talk about that. How it affects your life and your job and so forth.
Amy Lawrence: Yeah. So a lot of times what we see, a big thing is people lose their jobs. If you have a CDL license and you’re convicted of a DUI, no more, your job is gone. No more CDL license. Another thing we see is not just loss of job, but we also see, when people are divorced, we see a custody issue. Right? And then there’s this ginormous financial burden that comes with being convicted of a DUI. You’re talking about ADSAP, which costs here in this county, and I can’t speak for the rest of South Carolina, but you’re looking at anywhere between $800 and $1,200, sometimes up to $1,400 depending on where you fall in their scale. You’re looking at, you have to carry SR-22 insurance for three years, which is high risk insurance, which is three times what you’re paying now per year. And I could go on forever. So there’s all these different things that come into it. It’s not just about the criminal aspect, whether you’re going to get in jail or not. It’s all the other things that come with it for sure.
Justin Lovely: And if you are a college student and you’re going to go on to greater professional goals in your life, whether that’s law school, whether that’s nursing school, medical school, pharmacy school, it can mess you up because each one of these professionals, when you get an advanced degree, you have to go through the character and fitness portions and it can mess you up.
Amy Lawrence: Federal licensing, right?
Justin Lovely: So defense is very important. And even, I mean, with the Canadian population that we have come down here, they can be denied reentry to Canada. So, yeah.
Amy Lawrence: But we just dealt with this last week. He got denied entry because he’d gotten charged with a DUI down here. Also, if you’re convicted of a DUI here and you try to go to Canada, they will deny you. And we’ve seen it time and time again. Matter of fact, we have an attorney liaison in Canada that we work with when we have these kind of issues.
Justin Lovely: Right. And believe it or not, Myrtle Beach, we have a huge … people don’t realize this, but we have Can-Am Days down here, and a lot of Canadians come here to vacation.
Amy Lawrence: Oh, yeah. We have snowbirds. They come here, right.
Justin Lovely: They come here to play golf, and it’s very important. And so we know the ins and outs, and you just don’t want to get caught up in it because, again, these collateral consequences are sometimes worse than the actual underlying penalties, so.
Amy Lawrence: Oh, 90% of the time they are, for sure.
Justin Lovely: Right. Right. So Amy, and we always debate this, but I think there’s a consensus in our office, what is our number one tip that we would give to someone who is accused of a DUI?
Amy Lawrence: Don’t blow.
Justin Lovely: Don’t blow.
Amy Lawrence: Don’t blow. So the thing is, the law in South Carolina is not .08, right? .08 is the standard. And the law says that you must, if you’re driving the state of South Carolina and you were materially and appreciably impaired, .08 is just a standard. And so what does materially and appreciably impaired mean? I don’t think anybody really knows the definition of that. When we have jury trials, I have this little funny thing that I do and I always say … the Supreme Court, I remember when they talked about pornography, they said, “I don’t know how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” And I think drunk is the exact same way. I can’t define really what material and appreciably impaired is, but I know drunk when I see it. And that’s not drunk. So that’s kind of a little argument that I do with the jury. But if you don’t blow it and they don’t have the evidence to convict you, 99% of the time, it can.
Justin Lovely: And not only don’t blow, you don’t have to do the field sobriety tests. You have the right to remain silent. And of course, people don’t-
Amy Lawrence: No one understands that.
Justin Lovely: Yeah, they don’t understand that.
Amy Lawrence: Yeah. You can refuse everything. And so that’s what I tell people, refuse everything. Because let me just go a little bit further on this. We have clients that blow .03, .04, right? Way below the limit. That’s having a glass of wine with dinner. For somebody like me who doesn’t really drink alcohol but likes a glass of wine every blue moon, that’s .04 is the glass of wine with dinner. And I’ve seen, and I’ve had clients time and time again, who go in, they’re doing the right thing, they blow .04, and they’re still charged with a DUI. We all have this vision that we’re all going to go home when we blow less, but that’s not what happens. And there’s a whole lot of other things that go into factor too. As it sits in your body, your alcohol will go up and then it comes down after a certain point. That’s a whole nother discussion, I guess.
But so how to best represent yourself and to do the right thing by yourself is not to do anything, to stay silent. You have a right to remain silent in this country, which means you can refuse doing the breath test and you can refuse to o the field sobriety test. Because those field sobriety tests, they are structured for you to fail. I mean, I challenge anybody who’s watching this right now to get up, stand with one foot in front of the other, like you’re going to walk a line, but stand there with your hands down for any period of time. I’m 39 years old. I do yoga on the regular and workout, and it is very hard for me to do. And Lord knows you couldn’t do it right now if you had to. Maybe if our kids life depended on it, but that’s about it.
Justin Lovely: Right. And of course, like you said, they’re designed to fail, and they’re very subjective tests. So it’s whatever the officer thinks. I mean, they do have guidelines, but a lot of times we get these cases, we look at it, and we’re like, “This guy, this is ridiculous. This needs to be dismissed.”
Amy Lawrence: This is great. Yeah.
Justin Lovely: So, now, if you do refuse, now this is an other issue because we have clients who come in and they say, “Well, I tried to refuse,” but then they were bullied in a given a breath sample or bullied into doing some other things by the cops. And of course, we’re not there. So they’re telling us their side of the story, the officer’s tell their side of the story, and then we see the truth when we get the videos back. But they will also threaten that, “Hey, you’re going to lose your license if you don’t complete this test or you don’t blow for me.” Now, and that is true to an extent. But, Amy, kind of touch on the administrative hearing process and kind of what we do and how that kind of works.
Amy Lawrence: So if you refuse to blow in this state of South Carolina, your license will be suspended for six months. But we have a way to challenge that. And so what we do is when you are charged with the DUI, you are issued a blue sheet of paper. They’re baby blue, and they’re vague. They’re not like a little ticket. They’re big. That’s how you know this is what we’re looking for when I talk to my clients and potential clients. We’re looking for that big baby blue sheet of paper, which is your notice of suspension. And that notice of suspension, when you turn it over, it’ll have all this where you can fill out your name, your address, your attorney’s name, and all that other stuff, and you send it off with a $200 money order. And what that blue sheet of paper does is it requests a administrative hearing.
And so what we do is we go and challenge whether there was probable cause to pull you over to begin with. And if we can’t find the probable cause, then you’ll get to keep your driver’s license. And in the meantime, while we wait for that hearing, you can have an … what they will give you is a temporary alcohol license. And what a temporary alcohol license says is that you can drive uninhibited in the state of South Carolina until we have that hearing and it’s adjudicated.
Justin Lovely: Right. And it’s also-
Amy Lawrence: And we win 99% of those hearings.
Justin Lovely: Right. Well, one of three things is going to happen. One, the officer won’t show up. The second thing, we can pre-negotiate before the hearing. Or the third thing is we’re [crosstalk].
Amy Lawrence: Yes, which is usually what I do. I get ahold of the officer, we talk about the case, and we advocate for our clients for sure.
Justin Lovely: Right. So we could talk the different nuances. This is just a quick once over. Tell them how we help. So if they’re charged, what’s the first step they should do? And then kind of how we handle them and then go from there.
Amy Lawrence: So I tell people all the time, hire a lawyer. And hire a lawyer that does DUI on the regular. And why that’s so important is, when the economy gets bad and stuff, people will try to dabble into DUI. And unless the nuances of DUI, people aren’t very good at it. And so since February of 2009, when all that law changed, it created very specific things within that statute that the police officer has to do. And there’s all this case law that’s come down in between time, and we keep up with that every day. So I have an email that comes to my email that I have specific with the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and all that stuff. And it shoots me an email and it says whether or not we have new case law that’s come in. I have the whole book and I have checklists. So when I look at these videos … I’m jumping ahead of myself. But we know what we’re talking about when it comes to DUI. We know all the nuances of the law. And so that’s what we’re looking at.
Justin Lovely: Right. When we get those videos back from your discovery request, we can usually … within the first 10 minutes, we know that the way we can get it dismissed or reduced, or if it’s a bad case and the state’s done everything they were supposed to do. And of course, every case is different. We can’t make any guarantees at all.
Amy Lawrence: Every one’s different.
Justin Lovely: Every ones’ different. But we handle these. You first got your start doing DUI defense, and I kind of fell into it, and we do that as well as our injury practice. But it’s what we do.
Amy Lawrence: I think, it helps, babe. It helps that we both know DUI law so well that sometimes I’ll have a video or you’ll have a video, and we’ll miss something. And so we always have a second set of eyes on these videos. And so-
Justin Lovely: And we’ve always used that team approach. That’s kind of what set us apart. I mean, that’s our practice, right?
Amy Lawrence: It makes all the difference because there might be some little tiny thing that I missed or you missed that the other will pick up on. And I mean, it’s a matter of a conviction or not a lot of times.
Justin Lovely: Well, that, ladies and gentlemen, is DUI very quickly in a nutshell. Now, if you or a loved one are in the Myrtle Beach area or statewide in South Carolina, give us a call if you have an issue like this. We kind of know all the ins and outs. This is one of the primary areas of our practice. You can talk to Amy. You can talk to myself. We make ourselves available to you. We’re not going to charge anything to talk to you. And if it’s a good fit, we’ll be glad to take care of you and help defend you. But again, don’t drink and drive. Call Uber.
Amy Lawrence: Don’t, please.
Justin Lovely: We don’t condone this.
Amy Lawrence: It would not hurt our feelings one bit if we never got another DUI because there weren’t any out.
Justin Lovely: You’re absolutely right. So, ladies and gentlemen, that’s it. It’s another edition of the Carolina Justice Report, sponsored by the Lovely Law Firm and South Carolina Law TV. We’re glad to talk to you again. Leave us any comments or just a question.
Amy Lawrence: Please.
Justin Lovely: Call us if you need us, 843-839-4111.
Amy Lawrence: Thank you.