What Amounts to a DUI Offense in South Carolina?

Drinking can be a fun activity when done within reason and without breaking the law. Similarly, it is well and good to consume legal drugs, as long as they don’t impair you when behind the wheel of a car. But when a person chooses to drive under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs beyond what is legal, they commit an offense.

Since ignorance is never an excuse with the law, it is vital to understand what amounts to a DUI in South Carolina. Our Orangeburg DUI defense lawyers will attempt to shed light on this all-important question. If you find yourself in trouble for driving under the influence, our lawyers will provide you with excellent representation.

What the Law Describes as Driving Under the Influence

Most people who drink know their limit. Light drinkers can never consume as much as heavy drinkers. For this reason, some stop before going over their limit and becoming intoxicated in public.

Similarly, South Carolina law sets a limit for how much alcohol a person can consume and drive. It is illegal for a person to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs to the extent the person’s ability to drive is materially impaired. Thus, the threshold is 0.08%.

It means that at all times, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be below that percent and never at or above it. Once it is at 0.08% or higher, you are legally impaired and would face strict penalties. Commercial vehicle drivers, like heavy-duty trucks and school buses, must keep their BAC below 0.04%.

A commercial driver with that percentage or more will lose their license for a year as a first offender. They also stand to lose their commercial vehicle license if they refuse to submit to a DUI testing.  Furthermore, driving under the influence offense goes from being a DUI to a DUAC (driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration).

When faced with a DUAC, your case becomes more serious. This is because, unlike a DUI, under the per se DUAC charge, the law does not require evidence of impairment to convict you for driving under the influence.

What Is the Difference Between DUI and DUAC? 

Under South Carolina laws, a DUI implies that your driving ability is impaired. DUAC has nothing to do with impairment. The only thing the law considers is that your BAC is over the legal threshold. It is irrelevant if you are impaired or can still drive as safely as someone who didn’t consume any alcohol.

With a DUAC charge, you will go through the same penalties as someone with a DUI charge. The offense will remain on your permanent record if you are convicted. Also, you will pay fines, face possible jail time, and have your license suspended. You will also enter a compulsory alcohol intervention program and install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. All these are why you need a DUI defense attorney.

What Is the SC Implied Consent and Zero Tolerance System?

Under South Carolina law, drivers in the state are considered to have given implied consent for DUI testing. This includes breathalyzer tests and blood and urine tests to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol. If you refuse to get tested for driving under the influence, you face a 6-month suspension of your driver’s license. If you have any alcohol or drug-related conviction or suspension within the preceding ten years, you will get a 9-month suspension.

The Zero-Tolerance System 

The zero-tolerance system of South Carolina aims to discourage underage drinking. Under state law, those under 21 years must not drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02%. A person who breaks this law faces an automatic suspension of their driver’s license.

The suspension will last for three to six months if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension in the preceding five years. If a person under 21 years refuses to consent to BAC testing, they will have their driving privilege taken away for six months. If there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension in the preceding five years, the license suspension will last for a year.

Need Help? Contact Orangeburg DUI Defense Lawyers!

Getting a DUI charge and conviction are two life-altering events. But you can mitigate the consequences when you hire an Orangeburg defense attorney. Our lawyers are empathic about your plight, and we will use our experience to reduce your punishment. Time is of the essence in DUI cases, so call us today for a free consultation.