January 27, 2015

By Vannoy Law Firm


"Material and Appreciable Impairment":  What the State Has to Prove…

Our DUI law requires the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that a person was driving under the influence to such an extent that their faculties are materially and appreciably impaired due to the ingestion of alcohol, drugs, or a combination.  See SC Code Ann. Sec. 56-5-2930 and City of Orangeburg v. Carter, 303 S.C. 290 (1991). 

It is not against the law to consume alcohol and drive a vehicle.  In fact, if you read the law closely, it is not against the law to be "under the influence" and drive (whatever that means).  Well, at what point does drinking and driving turn criminal?  Is it beer 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7?  What if you are at the lake or the beach and are drinking a beer every hour for several hours?  Does that make your act of driving home criminal?  The bottom line is that consumption and absorption are two separate issues that an arresting officer usually is either (a) not aware of and/or (b) does not have the tools to investigate. 

What makes a 110lb woman "materially and appreciably impaired" is different than what makes a 200lb man likewise impaired.  The problem with DUI cases (in my opinion) is that there very rarely is anything scientific an officer can base his decision to arrest a person on.  If you remember, a person is not given the opportunity to take a breath sample until after they are arrested.

Food for thought…

If you have been charged with a DUI, traffic ticket, criminal offense, or a probation violation, feel free to contact me to discuss your options.  I also handle driver's license issues, parole cases, and other matters.  At my office, you will receive a free interview in criminal cases.  If retained, I will go about protecting your initial court appearance, if possible, and begin investigating the case.  If you have questions about a criminal or DUI case or questions about this article, feel free to contact me at (843) 761-0610.  If you would like to read more about South Carolina's DUI and criminal laws, copy/paste this link into your search heading

If you have questions regarding a DUI or criminal case in Berkeley, Charleston, or Dorchester County, please contact my office today at (843) 761-0610 or through the contact page on this website.

Photo-3Brady Vannoy is a criminal defense lawyer in Berkeley County, South Carolina.  He carries a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating.  According to the rating system, "AV Preeminent(r) is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence."

Brady Vannoy is a member of The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers in South Carolina.  You can find his profile at

Brady Vannoy's office is located in downtown Moncks Corner.  He regularly takes cases in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties.  Brady is a member of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100.  Brady defends DUI and all types of criminal cases in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties along with other areas of the South Carolina low country.  He can be reached at (843) 761-0610,, or through the contact page on this website.

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