Getting pulled over with cannabis in South Carolina can be a stressful experience with severe consequences. If you consume cannabis, you will want to know the facts and be prepared.
What Should You Do if You Are Pulled Over in South Carolina?
The first thing to remember if the police pull you over is to remain calm. Use your turn signal, and pull your vehicle to a safe location on the right side of the road. Follow the officer’s instructions, answer questions, and provide the requested documents.
Will a Medical Cannabis Card From Another State Protect Me From Cannabis DUI or Possession Charges in South Carolina?
No, holding a medical cannabis card from another state will not protect you from cannabis DUI or cannabis possession charges in South Carolina.
Cannabis is still federally illegal, and each state’s laws are different. There is no reciprocity between states for medical cannabis cardholders.
A medical cannabis card in any state will not protect you from being charged or convicted of a cannabis DUI. In fact, you can be considered impaired for DUI purposes if you take any drug, including medications prescribed by your doctor, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, alcohol, or any combination.
What Are Implied Consent Laws in South Carolina?
Every state, including South Carolina, has implied consent laws. Implied consent laws state that any person driving in the state is considered to have given consent for testing of breath, blood, or urine to determine DUI.
If a driver refuses to submit to drug and alcohol testing in South Carolina, they face an automatic 90-day driver’s license suspension. If they have a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension in the past 10 years, they face a 180-day suspension. Refusal could be used against a driver in court if they are charged with a cannabis DUI.
What if Police Suspect You Are Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis in South Carolina?
South Carolina police need probable cause to pull you over for driving under the influence. Probable causes could include involvement in an accident, erratic driving, swerving, or disobeying traffic signs.
In addition to blood, urine or saliva drug testing for cannabis, alcohol, or other drugs, police can inspect a driver for DUI using multiple tests, including:
- Breathalyzer tests to determine blood alcohol content (BAC)
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which involves following a moving object with your eye while the officer checks for eye movement patterns that may indicate impairment
- Physical tests such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg
What Are the Penalties for Cannabis Possession in South Carolina?
South Carolina has serious penalties for cannabis and paraphernalia possession. There is currently no medical cannabis program in South Carolina. Possession of less than one ounce of cannabis flower or less than 10 grams of concentrate is a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The penalties increase with subsequent charges or larger amounts in possession.
Make sure you remove paraphernalia from your car while driving through South Carolina. Paraphernalia possession includes any device used or designed for use in consuming cannabis in any way. “Paraphernalia” includes pipes, bongs, roach clips, and chillums. Possession of paraphernalia is a civil offense in South Carolina, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in South Carolina?
South Carolina law allows police to conduct DUI checkpoints as long as they meet the following requirements:
- Police must stop cars in a predictable pattern.
- The site must be safe and identifiable.
- The stops must be brief.
- The checkpoint must be effective and serve the public’s interest.
- Law enforcement must have a valid reason for the checkpoint, such as an increased DUI rate in the area.
- Supervisory approval is needed.
- Law enforcement must publicize the checkpoint.
What Happens to Your Vehicle in a Cannabis DUI in South Carolina?
If you are arrested for a cannabis DUI in South Carolina, your car can be impounded by police to clear the road. Police can also search it for evidence. If your vehicle is impounded, it will be towed to an impound lot. You will have to pay impound fees plus towing costs to get it back. Getting your vehicle out of impound as soon as possible is best because more fees accrue the longer it is held. Impound fees and towing expenses can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
How To Protect Against a Cannabis DUI Charge in South Carolina
A cannabis DUI arrest or cannabis DUI charge in South Carolina is expensive, and the laws are constantly changing. Cannabis DUI charges disproportionately impact people without the financial resources to defend themselves and access legal defense. That is why it is crucial to consume responsibly, know the facts, and have a proactive legal plan.
Cannabis consumers must understand their rights as drivers. You deserve quality representation in the event of facing cannabis DUI charges. At reepher, we help cover these and related costs.