While some people get away with drinking and driving in South Carolina, others get caught by the police and end up facing legal repercussions. Some thought they could get away with it by drinking coffee to sober up, using tricks to mask the smell of their breath, and choosing to answer the questions that police asked them politely.
But myths like these do not change how DUIs work in South Carolina. Some people may wonder what other DUI myths they might believe. Others may want to know how the state’s DUI laws work and if hiring a South Carolina DUI attorney is even worth the effort. Read on and learn about the six most common DUI myths in South Carolina and how a DUI attorney can help.
6 Most Common DUI Myths in South Carolina
Drinking Coffee Sobers You Up.
This is one of those persistent DUI myths. Even though coffee is a stimulant, coffee does not lower your blood alcohol content (BAC). However, people still believe it can because of how alert they feel during and after they drink it even though they are still considered intoxicated. While coffee gives you more energy and cancels out the drowsy effects brought on by drinking alcohol, the only thing that gets alcohol out of your system is time. In other words, the higher your BAC is, the more time it will take to leave your body.
First DUI Penalties Are Not Serious.
DUIs in South Carolina have many penalties, including jail, hefty fines, driver’s license suspension, and mandated alcohol/drug treatment. This is one of those DUI myths that could leave a permanent record.
A first-offense DUI in South Carolina will put you in jail for a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 30 days. If your BAC read between .10% and .16%, seven days get added to your minimum jail time. If your BAC read .16% or higher, plan on spending between 30 and 90 days in a cell.
On the other hand, a judge can replace the time you would have spent in jail with community service. For example, if you would have spent 90 days in jail, you would instead complete 90 days of community service.
In South Carolina, a driver’s BAC determines the amount of their fine.
- BAC of less than .10% = $400
- BAC between .10% and .16% = $500
- BAC of .16% and higher = $1,000
South Carolina law requires all drivers convicted of DUIs to complete the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP), consisting of an alcohol and drug evaluation and recommended treatment.
Suspension of Driver’s License
A first-offense DUI results in a 6-month driver’s license suspension. A provisional license is available for drivers enrolled in ADSAP.
“Zero-Tolerance” is the Law in South Carolina.
South Carolina’s “zero-tolerance” law only applies to minors. Many people do not realize that it is not illegal to drink and drive in the Palmetto State. However, it is against the law to “drive when you are intoxicated to the extent that it materially and substantially impairs your ability to drive” (DUI defined by South Carolina law) or to drive when you have a BAC of .08% or more.
South Carolina Has a Legal Limit.
While South Carolina does not have a “legal limit,” you can still get charged with a DUI if your BAC is exactly at .08%. (South Carolina law states “.08% or higher.”) However, this is an “inference” (meaning people can believe the evidence is true or false, and not automatically one or the other) that the driver was under the influence, not a “presumption” (meaning that there is a fact that automatically establishes as true).
(Note: Even if your BAC falls below .08%, you can still get arrested for a DUI if you display signs of impairment).
The Only Possible Charge for Drinking and Driving in South Carolina is a DUI.
While DUIs require evidence of impaired driving, a charge for “driving under alcohol concentration” (DUAC) only requires the driver to have a BAC of .08% or higher. In other US states, this BAC level is treated as presumptive evidence of driving under the influence, meaning that a criminal judge or jury can infer from the BAC level alone that the accused was driving while impaired.
South Carolina, however, has no such presumption in DUI cases, thereby leaving juries with instructions to remember that a BAC level is just one piece of evidence to consider.
Drivers cannot face charges for both DUI and DUAC, although the penalties are nearly identical.
For the prosecution to have a successful DUI conviction, it must prove the driver had impaired faculties to operate a vehicle materially and appreciably. For prosecutors to have a successful DUAC conviction, they must prove the driver had a BAC of .08% or higher.
Tests Requested by Law Enforcement are Optional.
If you get pulled over, you are not required to do a field sobriety test(s) should the officer request it. However, South Carolina’s “Implied Consent Law” requires you to complete a chemical test(s), including breath tests. Your refusal to complete the chemical/breath test will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for six months. Believing DUI myths like this one could leave you unable to drive.
Have you ever believed any DUI myths? Have you recently been arrested for a DUI? Are you lost about what to do or what legal route to take? If so, the attorneys at The Bateman Firm can help. Call today!