Drunk driving, also legally termed as Driving Under Influence (DUI) or Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC), is an illegal and punishable offense as per South Carolina laws. But what are the specifics of South Carolina DUI laws? It’s essential to know the details of drunk driving laws in South Carolina, the conditions which subject a person to penalization, and the penalties for various degrees of convictions for drunk driving.
Here are the most important statutes of DUI and DUAC laws that you need to know about.
Condition For Being Convicted For Drunk Driving
In South Carolina, factors are taken into account when convicting a person for drunk driving.
- The first factor is Blood Alcohol Content. For adults, driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more is illegal. However, for commercial drivers, the BAC limit is 0.04% and even less for minors (under 21 years), which is 0.02%.
- The second factor is if the person’s driving abilities and motor skills are ‘impaired.’ Even if the BAC is less than 0.08%, but the driver’s ability to drive is significantly impaired, they can still be convicted under the drunk driving laws.
DUI Vs. DUAC Laws – What’s The Difference?
If a person is caught drunk driving, they can be charged under DUI or DUAC laws, so it’s essential to know the difference between the two. Drunk driving laws apply to everyone equally.
Drunk driving laws in South Carolina convict a person based on their blood alcohol level and the extent to which their driving ability is impaired. If the BAC content is less than the permissible limit, but there is a clear indication of impairment, then the person can be convicted as per DUI laws.
DUAC laws come into effect when BAC exceeds 0.08% regardless of the level of impairment. So if a person is caught with BAC above 0.08%, they can be convicted under DUAC laws even if they are able to control themselves and drive properly.
A person holding a driving license in South Carolina is also subject to implied consent, which means they must consent for a test of breath as well as blood and urine if required when they are approached by authorities. Refusing to cooperate and comply with a BAC test can lead to license suspension up to 6 months if it’s their first instance of being charged for drunk driving, and license suspension up to 9 months if they have been convicted of drunk driving or had their license suspended before in the past 10 years.
Punishment and Penalties
Here are the various degrees of penalties that a person convicted of DUI or DUAC will have to face:
For First Offense
- BAC under 0.10% – up to 30 days of jail, $400 fine, 6-month license suspension.
- BAC 0.10 to 0.16% – up to 30 days of jail, $500 fine, 6-month license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – up to 90 days of jail, $1000 fine, 6-month license suspension.
For Second Offense
- BAC under 0.10% – up to 1 year of jail, $5,100 fine, 1-year license suspension.
- BAC 0.10 to 0.16% – up to 2 years of jail, $5,500 fine, 1-year license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – up to 3 years of jail, $6,500 fine, 1-year license suspension.
For Third Offense
- BAC under 0.10% – up to 3 years of jail, $6,300 fine, 2 to 4 years license suspension.
- BAC 0.10 to 0.16% – up to 4 years of jail, $7,500 fine, 2 to 4 years license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – up to 5 years of jail, $10,000 fine, 2 to 4 years license suspension.
For Fourth and Further Offense
- BAC under 0.10% – up to 5 years of jail and permanent license suspension.
- BAC 0.10 to 0.16% – up to 6 years of jail and permanent license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – up to 7 years of jail and permanent license suspension.
Challenging DUI/DUAC Charges
There are provisions to challenge a DUI/DUAC charge if the accused believes they have been wrongfully accused. Here are a few options to prepare your case if you wish to defend yourself against DUI/DUAC charges:
- The authorities need to produce a warrant to have you go through a BAC blood test. While it is unlikely, if you were made to take the blood test without a warrant, it will be dismissed as illegally acquired evidence.
- BAC tests are not always 100% accurate, so you can choose to challenge the accuracy of the test. Proving this in court is something better discussed with a DUI attorney.
- If your BAC was very close to the 0.08% mark when you were convicted and tested, you could opt for a rising-blood-alcohol defense, which argues that the BAC level merely experienced a sharp spike during the test, and the actual, stable value would have been much lower. Again, get help from an attorney to assist you better with this defense.
To learn more about drunk driving laws in South Carolina, contact us today.