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Proof of drunkenness in a South Carolina DUI case

Drunk driving allegations are extremely serious, but just because you are accused of driving while inebriated does not mean that you are actually guilty of the crime. Indeed, in the state of South Carolina, no one will ever be found guilty of any crime until -- and only if -- that individual is proved to be so beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. For this reason, it is important to know some of the most common factors that courts consider before they make a drunk driving conviction.

The most critical element in any drunk driving case involves the allegations that the defendant was inebriated. It is sometimes difficult for the prosecution to prove that an individual was actually drunk while driving a motor vehicle, but there are some common facts that will be used to prove inebriation. Police will use testimony relating to the unusual way that an individual might have been operating his or her vehicle. They will use testimony about the driver's physical appearance and conduct. They will use testimony about the way the driver completed field sobriety tests. They will also use photographs, film and tapes to back up the above testimony. Incriminating statements that the driver makes during his or her interactions with police may also be used.

Evidence of drunkenness that prosecutors will look for includes disheveled clothes, uncombed hair and unshaved face, bloodshot and glassy eyes, a red face and breath that smells like alcohol. They will also look for proof that the defendant had slurred or thick speech.

The final way to prove drunkenness involves blood alcohol tests. Breathalyzer test results can be used to show blood alcohol content. Other tests can be performed that include blood and urine samples to show how much alcohol someone had in his or her blood at the time of arrest.

When a blood alcohol test shows elevated alcohol levels, and when there is other evidence against the accused, it does not necessarily mean the end of the world for a defendant. Indeed, a skilled DUI defense lawyer can achieve a great deal during criminal defense proceedings. In some cases, sufficient evidence can be repressed or thrown out in order to preserve an individual's innocence. In other cases, individuals may be able to plea bargain for reduced sentencing in the event that a conviction appears inevitable.

Source: FindLaw, "Elements of a DUI offense" Nov. 27, 2014

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