Driver Intoxication or Impairment: What You Should Base Your Case On

You can ask any driver in South Carolina, and they’ll know that the legal limit for DUI is 0.08. At least all our clients have known this. What people don’t realize is that you don’t have to blow higher than the legal limit to be suspected of driver intoxication, arrested and charged with DUI.

So many of our clients are confused as to why they were arrested. They insist that their breathalyzer results were lower than the requisite 0.08. It isn’t until their criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina points out that they failed the field sobriety test terribly that they start to come around.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you come across as impaired to law enforcement, they’re going to arrest you for DUI. They know that not everybody who is driving while under the influence is going to blow higher than a 0.08. This is why they look for other signs of driver intoxication or  impairment.

As far as your case is concerned, it’s a lot easier to get the charges dismissed when your BAC was below the legal limit. At least then, it’s a matter of the police officer’s word against yours. If your BAC, however, was well over the 0.08 limit, even the best DUI lawyers in Spartanburg, South Carolina may not be able to help.

What’s the Difference Between Driver Intoxication and Impairment?

When people have normal conversations, they don’t worry about distinguishing between words like “driver impairment” and “driver intoxication.” However, when it comes to the law in South Carolina, these words mean two entirely different things.

Driver intoxication means that you have exceeded the legal standard for alcohol intake. The test law enforcement uses to measure driver intoxication is a breathalyzer test. This test lets the cops know what your blood alcohol concentration is.

If it is higher than the legal limit of 0.08, you will be considered intoxicated. When someone is suspected of driver intoxication, it is fairly assumed that they are unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Impairment is a different animal altogether. There is no hard and fast rule for determining whether someone is impaired. Instead, law enforcement has to use their training and instincts to make this determination.

They will take note of the way a driver looks and smells. They also pay attention to the way the driver answers their questions. Does their speech sound slurred? Are they confused?

The reason it’s important to understand the difference between driver impairment and driver intoxication is because it can greatly affect your case.

driver impairment can occur even if your BAC is below the legal limit

Does the Law Care About This Difference?

As far as the DUI laws in South Carolina are concerned, there is a difference between driver impairment and driver intoxication. In case of driver intoxication, with a BAC of .08 or higher, they are deemed DUI per se.

A Per Se DUI charge is something based on concrete evidence. In your case, this will be the results of the breathalyzer test. On the other hand, when somebody is impaired, the State must submit other evidence to prove that the driver was unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle.

The difference between driver intoxication and impairment matters to your criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina as well. If you were charged with DUI based on the officer’s judgment, your attorney can more easily challenge the arrest.

Since there is nothing concrete to base the charge on, your lawyer can argue that the officer didn’t execute good judgment. Or they can argue that the officer ignored all the signs that you were impaired. Their goal is to get the prosecutor to either dismiss the charges or agree to drop them to reckless driving.

All the Officer Needs to Charge You is Reasonable Suspicion that You’re Impaired

One of the reasons it’s easier to challenge a DUI based on impairment or driver intoxication  is that you can challenge the officer’s judgment. For example, the officer may say that you appeared confused and incoherent when they pulled you over. If the officer’s bodycam shows that you were lucid and clear thinking, it will help challenge the charges.

The same is true if the officer said you failed the field sobriety test. Your criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina will watch the video of your field sobriety test. If they feel that you performed well on the test, they can hire experts to analyze the video.

What your attorney needs to do is shed doubt on the police officer’s determination of driver intoxication or impairment. They can use different types of evidence to do this.

For example, your lawyer may review a voicemail or text message sent shortly before the arrest. If these things show a rational and sober conversation, they may be able to use it in court. They can also submit other evidence such as confirmation from the bar you were at that you only ordered one drink.

Your Criminal Defense Attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina Will Fight the Charges

If you’ve been arrested and charged for DUI, you deserve a quality defense. We suggest you call our office and schedule your initial appointment as soon as possible after your arrest.

In fact, if you have the chance, go online and search for the “best DUI lawyers in Spartanburg, South Carolina” from your cell. Our firm should appear right up there at the top. We can send one of our associates down to meet with you in jail. Or they can always meet with you in the office the day after.

The point of hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina is to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced. It’s a lot easier to do this when a defendant shows signs of impairment rather than driver intoxication.

The breathalyzer doesn’t lie. Nor does a blood test. However, if your arrest was only based on the officer’s interpretation of your behavior, your attorney can try to poke holes in their case.

We suggest you call us as soon as possible after your arrest. With so much at stake, you have no business trying to handle this all on your own.