South Carolina Public Defender Charged with DUI

Public Defender from Horry County Charged with DUI

Conway police pulled over and arrested a public defender on Saturday night for drunk driving, or DUI.

Melinda Knowles, 32-years-old, was a public defender for both Horry and Georgetown Counties. Early on Saturday morning, she was stopped in front of a Conway school.

The police report from the incident states that Knowles slurred her speech, and her breath smelled strongly of alcohol. Officers on the scene found two cups in the car that also smelled like alcohol.

Knowles was arrested and charged with DUI. The passenger in her vehicle was cited for open container violation.

Knowles refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. It is unclear if she has an attorney at this time.

Understanding Breathalyzer Tests and DUI Charges in South Carolina

South Carolina operates under implied consent laws. This means that if you apply for and receive a driver’s license in the state, you automatically consent to future blood, urine, and breathalyzer tests when requested by law enforcement.

Many residents of South Carolina do not, however, also know that they can refuse breathalyzer tests. According to law, if you have been pulled over for a suspected DUI, the officer must inform you of your rights, including your right to refuse the breathalyzer. If you do refuse the test, however, your license will automatically be suspended for 6 months, effective immediately. This can also be used against you in court.

The accuracy of a DataMaster breathalyzer depends on the unit, the timing of the testing and the testing process for the suspected motorist. Plus, there are procedural steps such as videotaping a breathalyzer test, which if omitted, can weaken the prosecuter’s ability to use it as evidence.

Results from handheld breathalyzers, normally used when officers initially pull over the DUI suspect, are used to establish probable cause. Probable cause will then be used like a search warrant to arrest the DUI suspect and bring the person in for a blood test. The results from the blood test are admissible in court, but not the results from just the breathalyzer.

Breathalyzer Testing in South Carolina MUST Include:

  • The machine must be properly maintained and in working order.
  • The testing operator must comply with a 20-minute observation period before testing. This 20-minute period should be recorded on videotape. The purpose of this procedure is to rule out a false reading. If the suspected motorist had a drink just prior to testing, the reading will not be reliable.
  • The collection of breath sample must be taken within two hours of arrest.
  • The test administrator is required to be trained and certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
  • The suspected motorist must be informed of a right to refuse a breathalyzer.
  • Before a breath test is administered, a simulator test must be performed on the DataMaster with a result between 0.076 percent and 0.084 percent.
  • Maintenance records on the specific DataMaster must be made available by SLED upon request.
  • The motorist being tested must be notified in writing that he or she has the right to select a qualified person of choice to conduct additional tests. The arresting officer must provide “affirmative assistance” for this endeavor or else any police-administered breath test will become inadmissible.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with DUI Charges

Do not let a DUI arrest or conviction ruin your reputation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the complexity of DUI legislation in the state of South Carolina. We also offer free, confidential consultations so that you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today about your DUI charge803.252.4800.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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