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Affirmative defenses for drunk driving

Individuals who have been formally accused of drunk driving in South Carolina may choose to take an active approach to their defense. The two major strategies used by most defendants are the affirmative defense, in which they attempt to prove that their intoxicated operation of a vehicle had some legally valid excuse, or the refutation of the evidence presented by the state.

Affirmative defenses include necessity, duress, entrapment, mistake of fact and involuntary intoxication. The necessity defense argues that the driver had an overwhelming reason to drive that was more important than their state of impairment. The defendant must show that the harm they wished to avoid was greater than the potential harm of the DUI. The defense of duress states that the driver did not want to drive, but they were forced by threat of violence. Entrapment asserts that a police officer told the driver to drive while they were drunk, and the defendant must show that they would not have driven if the officer had not asked them.

It is also possible to state that the driver did not know they were intoxicated, and therefore should not be held responsible for their violation of the law. If the driver can show the court that they did not have any way to know that they were intoxicated, then that would be considered a mistake of fact defense. Involuntary intoxication occurs when the driver did not intend to be impaired, but somehow ingested a substance which affected their driving abilities.

Drunk driving is considered to be a serious violation of the laws of South Carolina. The penalties can be quite severe and may include incarceration, suspension or loss of driving privileges, the required installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle of the convicted driver, mandatory classes and fines. An attorney may be able to help plan a legal defense.

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