DUI: What These Three Letters Really Mean

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Do you know how much alcohol it really takes to be charged with drinking and driving under the laws of South Carolina? Are you aware of what the legal limit really means? These questions are more complicated than they seem. You may be surprised that your general understanding of DUI laws and the corresponding legal and administrative repercussions is not entirely correct. 
For instance, you may think that you are completely safe to drive so long as you ensure that that you refrain from driving when you suspect that your BAC is over a .05. However, this is not always the case. While it may be true that you are NOT presumed  to be under the influence if you are of legal drinking age and have a BAC less than .05, a law enforcement officer may still determine that the manner in which you were driving is dangerous and that your ability to operate a motor vehicle has been hindered by your alcohol consumption, even if your BAC is under .05. 
Regardless of your particular BAC, if you are facing a DUI charge, it is essential that you understand the intricacies of the law underlying drinking and driving. Knowing the details of the drinking and driving laws is key not only to preventing yourself from facing a drinking and driving charge in the future, but also to making sure that your legal rights are protected should you presently be facing such a charge.  Either way, planning ahead and avoiding being behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol is your best bet to avoiding the consequences of such a charge—whether it be the legal consequences that accompany a DUI conviction or the lives that may be lost as a result of drinking and driving. 

Greenville, South Carolina DUI Law
Find answers to your DUI law questions today. Contact attorney David R. Price, Jr. for a consultation!

A DUI charge requires the guidance of a criminal defense attorney. Your future, your record, and your life are best placed in the hands of a legal representative. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., understand the emotional, mental, and physical difficulties that each and every South Carolina resident experiences when facing a DUI charge. If you are charged with driving under the influence, they are ready to help you understand your rights and to stand  in your corner through the legal process

Breath/Blood Alcohol Results: What the “Legal Limit” Really Means

  • A reading between .00 and .05 – any reading in this range creates a REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION that the person was NOT under the influence.  If the State fails to rebut the presumption that the driver was not impaired, then that fact must be interpreted to mean that the driver was not impaired.
  • A reading of .05 to .07 – there is no presumption or inference created by a BAC of .05 to .07, and the prosecution and defense are free to argue about the sufficiency of the state’s case and what the evidence indicates.
  • A reading of .08 or more – this reading gives rise to the inference that a driver WAS impaired.  The fact finder can still disregard this inference if he or she sees fit.

Administrative and Criminal Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

As a threshold matter, it is important to understand that South Carolina has an “Implied Consent” law. This means that by applying for and accepting a driver’s license from the State of South Carolina, you are considered to have implicitly consented to take a breathalyzer test if asked to do so by a law enforcement official. You may refuse to take it, but your refusal is an independent grounds for license suspension, even if you are not convicted of the underlying offense.

Non-Criminal Penalties

Whether you fail a chemical test for BAC or refuse to undergo such a test, you will lose your driver’s license for a substantial amount of time if convicted of driving under the influence or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration. Following an administrative hearing, your license may be suspended as follows: 

  • Conviction for DUI/ DUAC 1st (with the exception of BAC greater than .15):  The driver’s license is suspended for 6 months;
  • Conviction for DUI/DUAC 2nd or subsequent and DUI 1st with a BAC > .15: The driver’s license is suspended indefinitely, and to have an unrestricted license returned, the driver must participate in the ignition interlock device program for a period of time specified by statute.

If you are under the age of 21 and have a BAC over .02%, then you will be charged with DUI, and a first offense conviction will subject you to a license suspension.  You will also have your license administratively suspended for at least 3 months upon providing a BAC sample of .02 or above, regardless of whether  your .02 BAC level had any impact on your driving ability. 

Criminal Penalties for a DUI

This is where things get serious as far as your future, reputation in the community, and bank account goes. Criminal repercussions for a DUI conviction can be huge. Needless to say, these penalties are in addition to those set forth above.
Driving Under the Influence, First Offense

  • DUI with BAC less than .10
    • 48 hours to 30 days of incarceration or a fine up to $400.00
  • DUI with BAC of at least .10 but less than .16
    • 72 hour to 30 days of incarceration or a fine up to $500.00
  • DUI with BAC of .16 or higher
    • 30 days to 90 days of incarceration or a fine up to $1,000.00

Driving Under the Influence, Second Offense

  • DUI with BAC less than .10
    • 5 days to 1 year of incarceration and a fine of $2,100.00 to $5,100.00
  • DUI with BAC of at least .10 but less than .16
    • 30 days to 2 years of incarceration and a fine of $2,500.00 to $5,500.00
  • DUI with BAC of .16 or higher
    • 90 days to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of $3,500.00 to $6,500.00

Driving Under the Influence, Third Offense

  • DUI with BAC less than .10
    • 60 days to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of $3,800.00 to $6,300.00
  • DUI with BAC of at least .10 but less than .16
    • 90 days to 4 years of incarceration and a fine of $5,000.00 to $7,500.00
  • DUI with BAC of .16 or higher
    • 6 months to 5 years of incarceration and a fine of $7,500.00 to $10,000.00

Driving Under the Influence, Fourth or Subsequent Offense

  • DUI with BAC less than .10
    • 1 year to 5 years
  • DUI with BAC of at least .10 but less than .16
    • 2 years to 6 years
  • DUI with BAC of .16 or higher
    • 3 years to 7 years

It is important to remember that the fines and periods of incarceration are often negotiable and potentially suspendable to lesser sums, so it benefits anyone accused of committing DUI, particularly a second or subsequent offense, to talk to a lawyer about the potential avenues available to them to resolve their charges.
If you are convicted of DUI, you are also likely to have to take a drug and alcohol course and carry extremely pricey insurance for a substantial length of time. For second or subsequent offenses or convictions for first offenses with a BAC of .15 or above, you will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on your vehicle.

The Takeaway

The consequences of DUI can be devastating to yourself and to others on the road.  For that reason, you should never drink and drive.  Even if you do not hurt anyone, if you are arrested for DUI, the consequences of a DUI conviction can be financially devastating to yourself and your family. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, it is imperative that you reach out to one of the skilled attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A
 

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