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Whalen Montalvo

Greenville DUI Lawyers

Greenville County Criminal Attorney

Back in the day, Driving Under the Influence was basically a traffic ticket. In fact, many police officers released drunk drivers with warnings. Then, in the early 1990s, authorities launched a long-term DUI crackdown. This crackdown included tougher laws, like a lower BAC limit, and controversial law enforcement tools, like DUI roadblocks. All these efforts have yielded minimal results. Then as now, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in South Carolina.

Direct consequences of a DUI include extended court supervision and drivers’ license restrictions. This court supervision probation, which normally lasts at least six months, includes burdensome conditions, like weekly mandatory meetings and extensive community service requirements. Drivers’ license restrictions make it exceedingly difficult to do everyday things, like pick up the kids from school or go to the store. These direct consequences are much worse if a DUI enhancement, like a prior conviction, applies.

Indirect consequences include sky-high auto insurance rates as well as the stigma associated with DUI. People with DUI convictions must maintain high-risk auto insurance for at least three years. Even when this requirement ends, there is no guarantee auto insurance rates will drop substantially. As for the social stigma, many employers and other people believe that people with DUI convictions make poor decisions and cannot be trusted.

The thorough Greenville DUI lawyers at Whalen Montalvo use proven methods to obtain the best possible result in these situations. Police and prosecutors aggressively go after DUI offenders. DUI arrests keep police officers and prosecutors busy. A Greenville DUI lawyer must thoroughly evaluate your case and aggressively attack the state’s evidence in court. As outlined below, DUIs are very complex. Your criminal case should never be a training tool for a novice lawyer.

Why Choose Us

South Carolina has one of the highest numbers of lawyers per capita in the country. But only a handful of these attorneys have the right combination of skills to successfully resolve a Greenville County DUI. This combination includes:

  • Dedication: Fundamentally, criminal defense lawyers do what they do to prevent government overreach. Authorities at all levels would gladly trample individual rights if they thought they could get away with it. General practice lawyers who also practice transactional law often lack this dedication, which means they often lose heart when things get tough.
  • Experience: Years of experience are important. Trial experience is even more important. No one wants a Greenville DUI lawyer who always looks for a quick settlement or an easy way out. Although most criminal cases settle out of court, your lawyer must be ready, willing, and able to go to the mat for you.
  • Success: At Whalen Montalvo, our reviews speak for themselves. We are confident that the proven methods we have developed over the years will help us achieve life-changing results in your case as well. We have been so successful because innocent until proven guilty is so much more than a catchphrase to us.

We never settle for anything less than the best possible outcome under the circumstances, because you and your family should never have to settle for less.

Mr. Settles works third shift at a local manufacturing facility — and regularly picks up overtime shifts — to provide for his four children. Between work and parenting, he routinely logs four hours of sleep a day, balancing it all to be the best father he can be to his children. He relies on energy drinks, caffeine, and God to help him sustain the energy needed to meet all of his responsibilities. On a cold night in November, as he was just leaving his second overtime work shift for the week and two months of consistently logging overtime work, he was exhausted . . . he was worn down . . . he was dog tired. But, he was not DUI. A Simpsonville jury saw through to this truth, finding him resoundingly NOT GUILTY of DUI. Now, with a clean driving record, Mr. Settles is able to pursue his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), to continue to better himself and provide a more stable, higher income for his growing family. We cannot feel more satisfied for Mr. Settles and are grateful to a jury who took their role seriously in assessing his innocence.

How We Can Help

DUI prosecutions have several moving parts. At Whalen Montalvo, our approach is simple. We break down your case and look for fatal weaknesses.

Reasonable Suspicion

Generally, officers must have reasonable suspicion to detain motorists. Reasonable suspicion must be evidence-based in order for it to warrant any form of intrusion. DUI roadblocks are an exception to the reasonable suspicion rule. Officers may detain motorists without reasonable suspicion if the checkpoint meets all legal requirements.

Probable Cause

There is a very big difference between alcohol consumption and alcohol intoxication. To bridge this gap, officers and prosecutors rely on the three approved field sobriety tests, which are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Officers usually administer this test first. It has the highest compliance rate of any FST. If the subject’s pupils move involuntarily at certain viewing angles, that person probably has nystagmus. This condition, which is also called lazy eye, has many other causes. Because of these multiple causes, many Greenville County judges only allow prosecutors to use HGN test results in limited situations.
  • One Leg Stand: The OLS, along with the WAT, is a divided attention test. As test subjects elevate one leg, administering officers look for mental and physical clues, such as lifting the wrong leg, holding the leg at the wrong angle, swaying, and using arms for balance. Flashing squad car lights in the background make it hard to concentrate, and people with mobility issues cannot stand on one foot.
  • Walk and Turn: Likewise, people with any mobility or other physical impairments often cannot walk a straight-line heel to toe without swaying or stumbling. Additionally, it is almost impossible to successfully complete this test if the subject is not wearing athletic shoes. Finally, it is much harder to walk an imaginary or impromptu line in the field than it is to walk a permanent, actual line under controlled conditions.

If subjects do not complete these tests perfectly, officers always testify that the subject “failed” the test. Perfection is an impossible standard, given the limitations discussed above. Fortunately, a judge or jury makes the final pass/fail determination.

This determination is important in both test and non-test cases. If the subject passed the tests, the officer might have lacked probable cause to demand a chemical sample. If the subject refused to provide a sample, the FST results are the best evidence that a prosecutor has to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

Chemical Test Evidence

A DUI chemical test is almost always a Breathalyzer test. These gadgets, which are basically updated versions of the 1920s Drunk-o-Meter, have several flaws.

  • Ketones: These particles basically convert fat into energy. Some people, mostly diabetics and smokers, have abnormally high ketone levels. Breathalyzer measure ketones as ethanol. Therefore, the Breathalyzer result is artificially inflated in many cases.
  • Mouth Alcohol: A single burp or belch causes alcohol particles from the stomach to gush into the mouth, skewing the Breathalyzer result. To protect against this problem, South Carolina law requires officers to monitor defendants before they take Breathalyzer tests. But this law is not strictly enforced.
  • Device Calibration: Prosecutors usually call Breathalyzer technicians to the stand who crow about the Breathalyzer’s advanced features. The more features a gadget has, the harder it is to maintain. Judges routinely throw out breath test results because there is no evidence the device was properly maintained.

These flaws are especially significant if the subject had a .08, .09, or another borderline illegal blood alcohol level.

Although blood tests are much more accurate, officers rarely bother to administer them. These tests also have flaws, such as chain of custody issues with the blood sample.

DUI Lawyers FAQs

Many people, especially first-time DUI offenders, have many questions about DUI cases in Greenville County. We have listed some common ones below.

What happens after a DUI arrest?

Jail release is usually the first priority after a DUI arrest. Pretrial detention has personal and legal consequences. When these cases go to court, incarcerated defendants cannot meaningfully contribute to their own defenses.

Cash bail and bail bonds are generally available. Cash bail is basically a security deposit; bail bonds are basically insurance policies. Both kinds of pretrial release include various conditions, such as reporting to a supervision officer, staying out of trouble with the law, and attending all required court hearings.

Bail may not be immediately available in felony DUI cases. A Greenville DUI lawyer can change that during a bail reduction/modification hearing.

What is “intoxication” under South Carolina Law?

Drivers are intoxicated if, because of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two substances, “the person’s faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired.” Drivers with a BAC level of at least .08 are intoxicated as a matter of law. A BAC level of at least .05 is a presumption of intoxication.

What happens to my drivers’ license if I get a DUI?

Authorities could restrict driving privileges because of a DUI arrest and/or a DUI conviction.

South Carolina is an implied consent state. Drivers who refuse lawful requests to provide chemical samples could have their drivers’ licenses suspended. A first DUI conviction could mean an additional six-month drivers’ license suspension.

A Greenville DUI lawyer can contest arrest-related and conviction-related drivers’ license suspension. Usually, an attorney can at least make the suspension less oppressive.

How does a Greenville DUI lawyer resolve these cases?

Plea bargains resolve most criminal cases. Usually, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A well-negotiated plea bargain is generally better than taking a chance at trial, even if the state’s evidence is rather weak.

These plea bargains usually include a greatly reduced sentence. In some jurisdictions, a plea to a lesser included offense, like reckless driving, may be available as well.

Does a DUI affect my immigration status?

Technically, undocumented immigrants could be deported for a single DUI. However, this outcome is rare. Permanent residents with green cards could be deported for DUI, since this offense is a crime of moral turpitude. However, once again, these deportations are rare, especially if the person has a clean criminal record.

A DUI could affect a status adjustment, like an application for a green card or naturalization. These status adjustments are only available to people who have a good moral character.

How long does a DUI stay on my record?

For sentencing purposes, prior DUIs usually remain on criminal records for ten years. For example, if Ann is convicted of DUI in 2015 and is arrested for DUI in 2023, she could be charged with a second DUI. If Ann is arrested for a subsequent DUI in 2026, she cannot be charged with a second DUI, but the prior conviction could affect her sentence.

These answers should give defendants and their families additional insight into a Greenville County DUI, so they can make better decisions.

Connect with a Hard-Working South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer

Serious DUI charges could have lifelong consequences. For a confidential consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer in Greenville, contact Whalen Montalvo at (864) 770-7710. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Contact Us

Get the best legal representation possible. Give the Greenville, SC attorneys at Whalen Montalvo a call today at (864) 770-7710 or use our online form.

Contact Our Attorneys

Get the best legal representation possible. Give the Greenville, SC attorneys at Whalen Montalvo a call today at (864) 770-7710 or use our online form.