Legal Question in Traffic Law in South Carolina

I was pulled over for according to the officer, he thought I was drinking a beer. Once he came to my window, he then discovered it was in fact only a bottled water, in a clear plastic bottle at that. The officer then ask me if I knew what the speed limit was on this road to which I immediately answer, yes, it's 35 mph. I ask the officer was I speeding(I know I was not, I was only doing 30-32mph). The officer never gives a direct answer but states to me that even 1mph over is considered speeding. I ask him once more, was I speeding to which he never answers at all. I stop pressing the issue not wanting to aggravate the officer. He proceeds to ask for my license and registration and proof of insurance. After running info, he returns my info and tells me to be safe. I leave to pick up my son. I return to the same area maybe 10-15 minutes later to take my son to the park and the same officer pulls me again and says that my license came back suspended. I go to jail for DUS 1st. In his initial stop, once his suspicion of the beer was proved not factual, shouldn't I have been free to go if there was no other reason to hold me there? I had committed no other traffic violations and I was not suspected of any other crimes. Everything was working properly on the car and the owner of the car had no violations in his name. The only reason for the stop was the suspicion of a beer according to the officer's own words. I've requested the officer's notes, dash-cam footage, speed/radar gun readings, etc. from this incident. Can I get this dismissed at trial stating 4th Amend. violation? My license is indeed suspended for failure to pay $300 in reinstatement fees. If I cant get it dismissed, can I pay the fees, have my license reinstated and maybe have the charge reduced to driving without a license in possession?

Asked on 7/25/13, 7:50 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Johnston Law Offices of Robert J. Johnston

First off, I have to strongly caution you on practicing law and representing yourself. The legal process is not as simple, straight-forward and do-able as it might appear. If you cannot afford an attorney, then that's different. Otherwise, in all liklihood, although I can't say for sure, you will soon regret having represented yourself.

Next, sorry, but I have to be honest. You will not like my response. If you break this down, which you must do, the first stop was legitimate in all respects. The officer had Probable Cause for the stop; even though he was mistaken. The law doesn't require the police to be perfect. The law only requires a good faith belief that the law was violated. Then once he had you pulled over, he is allowed to continue to check on your license, insurance, registration, out standing warrants, and other things. I side with you on the fairness part of it. It really was not fair. But based on how you descibed it, it was legal.

Then on your second stop, apparently he didn't have a full, complete response regarding your license during the first stop. But when he saw you the second time, he must have received that information, and then pulled you over accordingly. Based on this, he did in fact have Probable Cause for the second stop as well.

Based on your explaination, you requesting a dismissal would be simply something that they would only do out of the kindness of their hearts. I do not see legal grounds for a dismissal. Not based on the information I read in your question.

Hiring an experienced and competent criminal attorney would be in your favor for a number of reasons. One, is its doubtful the prosecutor or the police, who often prosecute their own cases, is not going to take you as a threat at trial. Quite frankly, you are just not up to speed on the Rules of Evidence, SC Code of Laws, Rules of Criminal Procedure, courtroom protocol and procedure, etc.

Plus, you've already shown me that you do not have a full understanding on what does and what does not need to be proven. An experience lawyer would know how to submit the proper discovery request, which would include being provided with a Notice of Suspension, which is a requirement for prosecution.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm actually on your side and am rooting for you. I'm just giving you some factfual points on your case. Depending on what is produced by your discovery request, if anything, a lawyer would in fact know how to use it to defend you.

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Answered on 7/27/13, 8:50 pm

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