As a criminal defense attorney in South Carolina, I work with clients facing alcohol-related charges to help them prepare a defense and minimize the negative consequences of impaired driving charges and convictions. What are the regulations, penalties, and criminal defense that apply to impaired driving cases?
South Carolina law divides DUI offenses into two categories:
- DUI Charges: If a chemical test (breathalyzer) of a driver shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, lawn enforcement may charge the driver with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), if a. If the driver's use of alcohol or drugs has affected their operation of a vehicle, a DUI charge may potentially be issued even if a person's BAC is below 0.08%. DUI charges resulting from impairment by the use of drugs can be charged for impairment resulting from prescription and over-the-counter medications that affect a person's ability to drive, as well as for illicit drugs.
- DUAC Charges: If a driver is pulled over for a reason unrelated to driving, such as operating a vehicle with a broken tail light, and the officer subsequently determines that he has reasonable cause to issue a chemical test, the driver may potentially be charged with Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Content (DUAC). For most drivers, operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above constitutes DUAC. For drivers under age 21, the BAC limit is 0.02%. For drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) the limit is 0.04%.
DUI and DUAC convictions can lead to both civil and criminal penalties.
- Civil penalties may include the suspension of your driver's license.
- Criminal penalties depend upon the conviction charge, and can range from community service to up to 7 years in jail.
Criminal charges and sentencing are affected by a driver's history, so a second or subsequent DUI charge will carry higher fines and more jail time than a first offense.
It is important to find legal representation immediately after receiving a DUI or DUAC charge. That is especially true if you refused to submit to a breath test, or if your breath test reflects a BAC of 0.15% or higher. When refusal occurs or with very high BAC results, if you do not challenge said suspension within 30 days your license will be automatically suspended.
The facts and possible outcomes of every case are different. If you are facing DUI or DUAC charges in South Carolina, an experienced attorney can help you craft an effective defense strategy that may help you stay on the road.