Being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a life changing experience. Many times, the people charged with this crime have little to no experience with the criminal justice system and, therefore, have no idea what to expect. Also, DUI charges are ones which law enforcement officers are County Solicitors very aggressive in prosecuting. The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in South Carolina is .08, this can be as little as two drinks for some people. What a particular person’s BAC is will depend on several factors, such as weight, the amount of time passed since alcohol has been consumed, a person’s individual rate of metabolism, among others.
Police officers have a lot of discretion when deciding when to pull a driver over and oftentimes it is the officer’s word against the driver’s. The penalties for a even a first time DUI conviction in South Carolina can be extremely harsh including a 48 hour jail sentence, losing your license to drive for at least six months, and paying a predetermined amount of court costs – at a minimum.
For second or third time offenders the jail time can run anywhere from 30 days to 6 months and driving restrictions can last for up to four years.
It is important to first understand South Carolina’s implied consent law, which states that a person who drives a motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his or her breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or drugs, or the combination of the two, if arrested for a DUI offense. Pursuant to this implied consent law, your South Carolina license will most likely be suspended for anywhere from one month to nine months for failing (BAC of 0.15% or more) or refusing a chemical test.
It is equally important to understand that separate from the implied consent suspension is the criminal charge for DUI and / or driving with unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC).
In South Carolina, it is unlawful for you to drive a motor vehicle while (1) under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired; (2) under the influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired; or (3) under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. Section 56-5-2930.
It is also unlawful for you to drive a motor vehicle within South Carolina while your alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more (regardless of whether your faculties are impaired). DUAC is sometimes known as a per se DUI. Section 56-5-2933. Convictions for DUI and DUAC come with the same sentencing penalties.
Miller|Conway are Goose Creek attorneys who can help if you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI. Hiring an attorney is a critical step to ensure that your interests are protected.