DUI

Arrested on St. Patrick’s Day?

ImageWMBF as well as other news sources broadcasted information on the Internet, television and radio regarding this past weekend’s festivities. Amongst the weekend’s events, the Grand Strand celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, a car show and a cheerleading competition. Since there was so much to look forward to over the weekend, local law enforcement wanted their presence to be known so that the fun did not get out of control. This WMBF news article issued a statement from local law enforcement that read, “If you are caught drinking and driving, you are going to jail.”

http://www.wmbfnewus.com/story/21660018/myrtle-beach-police-are-cracking-down-this-weekend. Were you arrested for a DUI this weekend? Perhaps you were instead arrested on public intoxication charges? Possibly, you were arrested for possession of marijuana? These are all events that can occur when you are out celebrating holidays like St. Patrick’s Day.

It is almost certain that local law enforcement dealt mostly with DUI related offenses this past weekend. DUI laws make it unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle if the driver’s ability to safely drive has been impaired by the effects of drugs or alcohol or the driver is intoxicated at a level above the established BAC (blood alcohol concentration). In South Carolina, if you have a BAC of .08 or higher, you are legally considered too drunk to drive and can be punished by law. The nature of the DUI charges against you depends on many factors including your prior convictions, the severity of the offense, and the level of intoxication and whether the offense caused injury or death.

Most of us have made the mistake of getting behind the wheel and driving after a few too many cocktails, unfortunately, it’s a common mistake. But, fortunately, the law offers ways to mitigate this mistake. Additionally, the law offers ways to mitigate the mistake of public intoxication and possession of marijuana. For example, in the case of a DUI related offense, your punishment for the crime could be mitigated because the law enforcement officer did not arrest you on probable cause, which is a required element of an arrest. Your punishment for a DUI related offense could also be mitigated because the law enforcement officer improperly conducted field sobriety tests on the scene.

If you have found yourself in a similar situation as one listed above, like being arrested for a DUI, contact your criminal defense attorney Daniel Selwa. If you choose not to contact an attorney, your punishment under the law will likely reach the maximum penalties which could include: imprisonment, excessive fines, suspension of driver’s license and court ordered alcohol/drug treatment or counseling.  Daniel Selwa is an experienced attorney who can help mitigate the punishment for your crime.

Categories: Attorneys, Criminal Defense, DUI, Open Container | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stricter DUI Laws in SC?

South Carolina ranks among the top of states for DUI related accidents. The number of DUIs in Myrtle Beach is particularly high which can be attributed to the tourist industry locally.

Emma Longstreet was killed last year on New Years Day in a drunk driving accident. Her parents are fighting today to get Emma’s law passed. The law would require a sobriety ignition test, if you blow above a .02, you won’t be able to start your car. The law also would include stricter penalties for repeat offenders. For more information on the tragic death of Emma Longstreet and Emma’s law, check out: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/21290061/emmas-law-would-install-ignition-interlock-device-in-dui-offenders-cars.

Most people I have met admit that they have driven drunk at one point in their lives. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means, you made a bad mistake. Fortunately, the law recognizes this and your punishment for a DUI can be mitigated with counsel. If you go up against the law by yourself, you may face the worst case scenario penalties. However, if you contact Daniel Selwa, the opposite may result. Contact Daniel Selwa today for a free consultation regarding your case.

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The Legal Process of DUIs

superbowlThis NFL season was full of surprises ranging from the referee lockout to rookie talents like Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III, to quarterback changes like Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. What did you do celebrate the end of this NFL season along with Superbowl XLVII? In the Myrtle Beach Area, a lot of local bars advertised their Superbowl specials like Louie’s at Broadway at the Beach. Did you go out and partake in the Superbowl activities at a hot local spot? Hopefully, if you did, you made to it to the bar and home safely without any negative encounters with law enforcement. But if you didn’t, your local attorney Daniel Selwa is here to help you.

As you may know, a traffic stops begins with law enforcement’s reasonable suspicion that a law has been or is being violated. If the police officer stops based on reasonable suspicion that a person is driving under the influence, he will likely conduct a field sobriety test. For more information about the basics of a DUI, visit my earlier blog entry: https://sclawyersnet.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/arresting-officer-how-much-have-you-had-to-drink-tonight/.

But what happens after you are arrested on DUI charges? After the arrest, you are usually taken to the police station and booked. Booking includes the process where law enforcement takes your personal information, your photograph, your fingerprints, information relating to the arrest and other pertinent information.  After the booking, you will likely be placed in a holding cell or jail. Then, you will be given a pre-arraignment release through a bail proceeding. The bail proceeding allows the DUI suspect to post money in exchange for his release on the condition that you will attend all upcoming court proceedings regarding your case.

After the arrest, the booking, and the bail proceedings, arraignment takes place.  During arraignment (only applicable to 2nd offenses and above), you will be placed in front of a criminal court judge and you will be confronted with the charges against you and advised of your right to an attorney. During this stage, you may choose to plead guilty to the charges and at that point the proceedings will cease. But, you might choose to plead not guilty if the evidence against you is weak and you have a viable defense. It is also possible at this stage that a plea bargain may be available that would be favorable. Attorney Daniel Selwa can help you determine whether it is in your best interests to plead guilty or not guilty at this stage and whether you should pursue defending against the charges further.

As you can see, the legal process can be a lengthy process, but with an attorney, the legal process may end rather quickly with a positive result for you. Imagine only having to serve probation time when you were facing prison time or imagine the DUI charges being dropped against you completely.  You might wonder what if you don’t take advantage of your constitutional right to counsel, don’t wonder what if, and speak to Daniel Selwa today.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, Traffic Tickets | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Intoxication Manslaughter: Dallas Cowboys

There are almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving every day.  Every day in ImageAmerica, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. Interestingly enough, in those fatal drunk-driving accidents, the driver often survives while accompanying passengers do not. But still, there are circumstances in which people do survive these horrific accidents but they survive with life altering injuries sustained from the accident. If the driver survives, he has to live with the guilt and pain caused by his actions of getting behind the wheel after drinking. In addition, the driver has to face the criminal law system for his actions, his actions could lead to suspension of his driver’s license, probation, community service, and worst of all, significant jail time.  The drunk driver who causes death to another will most likely face involuntary manslaughter charges and all of the above criminal law penalties could result if he is convicted

The most common charge for death resulting from a drunk driving accident is felony DUI, however sometimes jurisdictions at the behest of that jurisdiction’s prosecutor can charge involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another without malice aforethought. Malice aforethought means the actor did not intentionally cause harm to another but the harm resulted from his recklessness or negligence. The state of South Carolina may charge you with the equivalent of involuntary manslaughter and that is reckless homicide.  The elements of the crime are basically the same; it is defined as the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others that results in the death of the victim. This is a felony and penalties could reach up to 10 years of jail time, fines of up to $5,000 as well as a revocation of one’s driver’s license for 5 years.

You might remember the Nick Hogan case; Nick Hogan was 20 years old when he was involved in a drunk driving accident that nearly killed his best friend John Graziano. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and his best friend was riding without his seatbelt as a passenger in Nick’s car. Subsequently, Nick was charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury amongst other charges. After serving just under six months in jail for his crime, Nick was released early for good behavior. But, Nick must still serve out his 5 years of probation and 500 community service hours. The accident left John Graziano, a war veteran, in a semi conscious state. John Graziano will require around the clock care for the rest of his life. Perhaps equally as sad, Nick Hogan must live with the pain and guilt for the rest of his life. In an interview, following his release from prison, Nick tells Good Morning America that “some mornings it is hard for him to wake up” and “it’s hard to be positive every day when there’s something so horribly devastating.”

Today, America mourns the loss of Jerry Brown, a Dallas Cowboys practice squad linebacker. He was tragically killed on Saturday morning around 2:00am when the vehicle he was riding in hit a curb and flipped at least once. Teammate Josh Brent was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred.  Josh Brent was intoxicated at the time of the accident and this wasn’t his first run in with the law involving drunk driving. Josh Brent is being charged with intoxication manslaughter. Josh Brent recently released a statement saying, “I am devastated and filled with grief.” He further commented by saying, “I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life.”

It seems apparent that both Nick Hogan and Josh Brent did not mean to cause any harm to their friends that were injured or killed in these accidents. Both of these drivers undoubtedly could have afforded a cab ride or even a limo ride. But, both of these drivers made the unfortunate and heartbreaking mistake to get behind the wheel and drive while intoxicated. Sadly, it happens all too often, and plenty of Americans are guilty of making this mistake at one point in their lives. It’s not to say it makes you a bad person, but that decision to drive while intoxicated could change your life. If you have made the same mistake, as did Nick Hogan and Josh Brent, you need a compassionate lawyer who will understand the unfortunate result of the accident. Daniel Selwa is an experienced criminal law attorney who is not only compassionate but also well equipped to handle your DUI case involving serious bodily injury to another. Contact Daniel Selwa today for your free consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, Wrongful Death | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Traffic Ticket Consequences

Remember that heart pounding feeling you experienced when you saw the blue lights rapidly approaching your vehicle?  Chances are, most everyone you know has experienced this same feeling. More than 90% of people over the age of 16 are licensed to drive which means millions of traffic citations are issued each year. Traffic laws and regulations were put into effect in the early 1920s with the goal of protecting you and your loved ones on the roadways. Research has shown that most people obey traffic laws because they do not want to run the risk of receiving a traffic citation. Although most people obey traffic laws, there are always slip ups where someone loses focus and accidentally makes a left hand turn without a blinker, or even intentional acts where someone runs a red light because they think they can go unnoticed by law enforcement.

Most traffic tickets are issued for “strict liability offenses”, which means no particular criminal intent is needed to convict a person of the offense. Examples of strict liability offenses include: speeding, failure to yield, failure to use turn signals, turning into a wrong lane and driving a vehicle with burned out headlights or taillights. Most traffic tickets are also considered minor infractions and as such are handled in the lower courts. However, traffic tickets that involve injury to a person or a person’s property often do go through the criminal court system and allow the defendant to hire an attorney if she so chooses. Examples of traffic tickets that carry felony punishment include: a hit and run accident, driving under the influence of alcohol, and failure to stop a vehicle when signaled by law enforcement.

Traffic tickets can carry consequences including: license suspension, car insurance increases, fines, and even jail time.  You can face license suspension where you have received multiple traffic tickets or where your offense was accompanied by bodily injury to another or involved drunk driving. Your attorney could present evidence that shows you have taken corrective measures such as taking a safe driving class or attending alcoholic anonymous meetings to address your behavior. If the judge is convinced he could opt not to suspend your license. The crime of a hit and run can carry jail time ranging from 30 days to 25 years depending on whether minor injury, serious injury or death results from the hit and run. You are entitled to put on a defense to explain your actions. Your defense could mean the difference between fines and jail time. For every traffic citation you receive, you receive points that reflect negatively on your driving record. In turn, the points could lead to higher insurance premiums. By hiring an attorney, you may be able to avoid points and higher insurance premiums.

Even careful safe drivers can make a mistake and receive a traffic ticket as a consequence. Contact attorney Daniel Selwa to assess your case and fight your traffic ticket.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Driver License, DUI, Points Suspension, Traffic Tickets | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Dangers and Consequences of Texting and Driving

You’ve probably heard one or more of these catch phrases,  “if you want to survive, don’t text and drive,” “don’t tempt fate, that text can wait”,  “don’t drive inTEXTicated”, and “friends don’t let friends text and drive.” Although it is still a national concern, drunk driving seems to have taken a back seat to texting and driving. Recent reports and statistics have caused the focus to shift from drunk driving to texting and driving.  Many cell phone providers have included features that now allow you to communicate your text by talking the text which results in the phone typing and sending the text message for you. Media outlets including radio and television constantly run segment on the dangers of texting and driving. According to recent reports, someone is injured or killed once in every 5 minutes on average in a crash that involves texting and driving.

Many states have now adopted laws that ban text messaging while driving. Currently, Columbia, the capital of South Carolina does have a ban in place for texting and driving but the state of South Carolina is not currently a state that bans text messaging while driving. However, it may soon join the growing list of states that bans text messaging while driving. A review of the proposed bill that will ban texting and driving is available at: http://www.distracteddrivinghelp.com/south-carolina-texting-laws.

Recently, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Communications Commission along with over 140 other organizations joined forces to halt texting while driving.  The WMBF news article listed explains this national movement: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/19581108/the-dot-and-fcc-join-att-to-call-for-a-national-movement-to-halt-texting-while-driving.

Have you or someone you know been injured by someone who was texting and driving? Join the national movement and do your part by discussing your case with attorney Daniel Selwa. Although texting and driving is not yet banned across the state of South Carolina, South Carolina does recognize actions at law that will allow you to recover for your loss.

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween is today and for many of us, Halloween is a holiday filled with candy, haunted houses, and scary movies. While some choose to stay home and give out candy to trick or treaters or snuggle with their loved ones while watching a scary movie, many people venture out on Halloween in their costumes to trick or treat and/or attend Halloween parties. You can bet your bottom dollar that many of those attending the Halloween parties will be consuming alcohol. So, what does this mean for you, the responsible Halloween partygoer?  This means that you need to be aware of all your surroundings and particularly careful when driving to and from the Halloween party.

Every 30 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk driving accident. Last year alone, over one million people were injured in alcohol related traffic accidents. Halloween is a particularly dangerous day because of the number of drunk drivers on the road. As reported by MADD, who cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41% of all highway fatalities throughout the nation during the Halloween period in 2010 involved a driver with a BAC of .08% or higher.

Here are some particular tips from MADD about how to keep safe this Halloween: http://www.madd.org/blog/2012/october/Halloween.html

If you suffer personal injury this Halloween, contact Daniel Selwa immediately.  You may have a claim for negligence against the driver who injured you. Automobile drivers are under a duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances and a failure to use reasonable care results in negligence. If the driver who injured you was over the legal limit of alcohol at the time of the accident, the judge will take this fact into consideration. It is likely that the judge will infer negligence if the plaintiff can prove the defendant was inebriated at the time of the accident. Liability may also extend to the establishment that served the driver alcohol. Contact Daniel Selwa immediately so that he can ensure all of the liable parties are held responsible for their wrongful actions.

Eat, drink, be scary, but most of all be safe this Halloween! Happy Halloween!

Categories: DUI, Personal Injury | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Arresting Officer: How much have you had to drink tonight?

Have you been arrested on suspicion of a DUI? You are not alone, reports show that in 2010, over 1.41 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Due to the growing trend of DUI arrests, law enforcement and Courts alike are cracking down on drunk driving. Unfortunately, the pressure to make DUI arrests has resulted in some innocent people facing DUI charges. Even if you were drinking and driving, there are mitigating factors, which could result in the DUI charges against you being lessened or dropped altogether.

DUI laws make it unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle if the driver’s ability to safely drive has been impaired by the effects of drugs or alcohol or the driver is intoxicated at a level above the established BAC (blood alcohol concentration). In South Carolina, if you are 21 or older, it is against the law to drive with a BAC above .08%. Simply being in an accident can give law enforcement reasonable suspicion to investigate the accident further. The investigation may take form in temporarily detaining the motorists involved in the accident. At that time, law enforcement officers may question the drivers and passengers about whether any drinking has been involved. If the investigating officer then believes the driver has been drinking, the officer has probable cause to arrest the driver. The following link gives an example of two drunk driving cases: http://dui.findlaw.com/dui-charges/the-tale-of-two-drunk-driving-cases.html.

A DUI conviction may carry criminal penalties including fines, jail time, probation, and community service. In addition to the listed criminal penalties, your license could be immediately suspended. A person convicted of a DUI or a DUAC will be required to get SR-22 insurance (which can be expensive) and be required to complete ADSAP (Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program) before a license will be reissued.  The nature of the DUI charges against you depends on many factors including your prior convictions, the severity of the offense, and the level of intoxication and whether the offense caused injury or death. A felony DUI is typically imposed when there has been great bodily injury or death to another. A felony DUI can result in extensive jail time and hefty fines as well as license suspension or revocation.

Give yourself the best chance at fighting your DUI by contacting attorney Daniel Selwa today. Daniel Selwa has the skills and experience that will allow him to thoroughly defend your case.

Categories: DUI | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Facing DUI charges? Know your rights!

Many people mistakenly believe they must comply with all of law enforcement’s requests.  I am here to tell you that you do have rights that allow you to refuse to comply with the law enforcement’s requests to submit to field sobriety tests when you are pulled over for a DUI. You also have rights after a DUI arrest that allows you to contest the DUI charges.

If you are pulled over for a DUI, the police officer must have reason to believe you have been drinking. He may acquire probable cause that you have been drinking based on several indicators including: slow responses to traffic signals, headlights off, turning abruptly or illegally, stopping inappropriately, driving into opposing or crossing traffic, or braking erratically. Note: speeding is not a DUI indicator. Your DUI charges may be dropped if the police officer lacked probable cause to pull you over.

The attending police officer must inform you of your Miranda rights. Most importantly, your Miranda rights include: the right to remain silent, the right to appoint counsel, and the right to have counsel present during questioning. Essentially, this means you don’t have to tell the police officer what bar you just left or how much you have had to drink. You can request an attorney immediately and all questioning must cease. The only information you must give the police officer is information relating to your identification and vehicle such as your driver’s license and insurance.

You also have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. Scientific studies have questioned the accuracy of field sobriety tests. People who are not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol often have a hard time passing field sobriety tests. Nonetheless, police officers often use field sobriety tests to prove intoxication. By declining to engage in field sobriety tests, you are simply giving the prosecution less evidence to convict you on DUI charges.

Even if the police officer did have probable cause to pull you over, it is quite possible the investigation was conducted in an unlawful manner. After your DUI arrest, you are entitled to a jury trial if you so choose. At trial, you are afforded the right to challenge certain factors including the following: whether or not you were lawfully stopped ad detained, the period of time between arrest and testing, whether or not you were informed of your rights, whether you consented to the alcohol testing and whether the machine was working properly. You may also challenge the DUI charges based on a law unique to South Carolina. South Carolina law requires all DUI arrests to be videotaped. The recording must begin from the moment the police officer pulls you over and must continue until he has completed the arrest. If the arresting officer fails to record the submission of your breathalyzer test and/or the field sobriety test, then you may be able to get the evidence of the videotape suppressed all together and possibly a lighter sentence.

If you are facing DUI charges, contact Daniel A. Selwa, II, immediately. You have constitutionally protected rights during the DUI stop as well as after the stop and DUI attorney Daniel A. Selwa, II can help ensure your rights remain protected. Protecting your rights can mean a lesser sentence or a drop of DUI charges completely.

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Proposal could boost Horry County’s DUI conviction rate – Top News – TheSunNews.com

This will never happen but I agree with the view…its not a loophole, its a training issue. If police officer’s do it right, there is nothing I can do for a person charged with DUI to get him or her out of it.  Police officers need more training on Driving Under the Influence arrests if they intend on making more convictions.

If you have been charged with DUI or DUAC, call Daniel A. Selwa, II, immediately.

Proposal could boost Horry County’s DUI conviction rate – Top News – TheSunNews.com.

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