How Do DUI Laws Work for Teenagers in South Carolina?

DUI laws in South Carolina are very strict, especially for teenagers. If your child has been charged with a DUI, it’s essential to understand how the laws work and the gravity of the situation as a conviction may have a lasting impact on their prospects.

A DUI conviction can impact your child’s future, including their ability to obtain a driver’s license, get into college, and even secure a job. If your child is facing a DUI charge, seeking legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.

The Bateman Law Firm has a team of highly experienced and dedicated DUI defense attorneys in Spartanburg, South Carolina that you can count on. Our attorneys have the knowledge and skills to help you navigate the complex DUI laws in South Carolina and protect your child’s rights.

First, let’s take a look at how DUI laws work for teenagers in South Carolina.

Teen Drunk Drinking Laws in South Carolina

Underage DUI laws in South Carolina apply to drivers under 21 and set the BAC limit at .02% for teens (whereas for adults, it is .08%). And, when demanded by an officer, drivers suspected of drunk driving must submit to BAC testing (typically a breathalyzer test).

Often, teen drunk driving rules focus on the amount of alcohol in the young driver’s bloodstream. If the underage driver’s BAC is the same or higher than the legal limit (even traceable amounts of alcohol in the blood), they will be arrested for a DUI.

Subsequently, they may be convicted even if there is no evidence of actual impairment. In other words, teenage drivers don’t have to be intoxicated to be convicted. A BAC above the legal limit is sufficient.

Elements of Underage DUI Charges: What the Prosecution Must Prove

Prosecutors must typically show two things.

  • The underage defendant was driving a vehicle or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.
  • The underage driver had an illegal concentration of alcohol or drugs in their system.

Zero Tolerance Policy in South Carolina for Drivers Under 21

In South Carolina, anybody under 21 who is detected driving with a blood alcohol content of .02% or above is subject to the zero-tolerance policy. The blood alcohol content that might result in a DUI arrest for adults is.08%.

Teens arrested for DUI will have their license suspended for three months under the zero-tolerance legislation. If they have any past alcohol-related offenses or their license has been suspended in the last five years, they will face a 6-month suspension.

The penalties are more severe for teenage drivers who resist blood alcohol concentration testing. If a teenage suspect refuses to take the test, they risk an automatic 6-month ban, which will be extended to a full year if they have past alcohol-related offenses.

Anybody convicted of a minor DUI must participate in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

underage DUI penalties are very severe

Defense Against an Underage DUI Charge

A DUI charge should be handled extremely seriously.

Remember that anyone, including a juvenile, accused of DUI is not guilty unless the state of South Carolina demonstrates that they are. Several legal methods might be employed in a youth DUI case. These techniques may result in a reduced sentence or the dismissal of the charges.

Possible defenses to an underage DUI charge include:

  • The officer did not have reasonable cause to stop the motorist.
  • The BAC tests were not administered correctly, so the findings cannot be presented in court.
  • The equipment used to test the driver’s blood alcohol content malfunctioned or was broken.
  • The arresting officer did not tell the teenager about their rights when arresting them.
  • The blood alcohol test findings were produced by something else, such as acid reflux.

Not all of these tactics will work in every situation. Your best bet is to get a competent criminal defense attorney on your side and develop a legal strategy tailored to your case’s specifics.

How to Avoid an Underage DUI

Here are some tips to help you avoid an underage DUI.

Don’t Drink at All If You’re Under 21

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. If you’re under this age, it’s illegal to drink alcohol. It is not only against the law but also dangerous and can lead to serious consequences.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’ll be in a situation where there may be alcohol, plan ahead. Ensure that you have a designated driver or take a taxi (or book a ride-sharing service) home. Don’t wait until intoxicated to figure out how you’ll get home.

Avoid Peer Pressure

If your friends pressurize you to drink alcohol, be assertive and say no. Remember that it’s your decision, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing something that could harm you or others.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

If you’re at a party or gathering, be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone intoxicated and planning to drive, try to stop them or get them help.

Educate Yourself & Others

Learn about the dangers of drinking and driving and the consequences of an underage DUI. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid risky situations.

If the Damage Is Done, Get Help for Underage DUI

When facing an underage DUI charge, having a qualified criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina on your side is your best bet. Your attorney can advise you on the best course of action to avoid a conviction.

If not, they will at least cut the harm caused. Let your attorney know if you have any (specific) worries regarding your education, financial aid, or how your career may be affected, so they can do something to help in those areas too.

Get the Best DUI Lawyer in Spartanburg in Your Corner!

If your child has been arrested for DUI in Spartanburg, South Carolina, it’s essential to have an experienced DUI lawyer in your corner.

At the Bateman Law Firm, we have over a decade of experience defending clients against DUI charges. We know the ins and outs of the DUI laws in South Carolina and will work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Don’t try to navigate the complex legal system on your own. Call our firm for a consultation with the best DUI lawyer in Spartanburg, South Carolina right away!