A Breakdown of South Carolina’s Drunk Driving Laws
If you are charged with drunk driving in South Carolina, one of the most important keys to building a strong defense is to know the laws. In addition to measuring your blood alcohol content, law enforcement may take other factors into account to determine exactly how you will be charged. Fighting such allegations could result in a reduction or dismissal of the charges.
Testing Blood Alcohol Content
There is an implied consent law in South Carolina, which means that anyone who drives a motor vehicle in the state agrees to take a chemical test. Refusing the test results in an automatic 6-month license suspension for the first offense, and longer for subsequent offenses.
Depending on the driver, there are varying BAC levels that cross the legal threshold. For drivers under 21, any BAC over .02 percent will merit a DUI charge. Commercial drivers have a limit of .04 percent, and all other drivers must be at .08 percent or lower to avoid legal issues.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, charged and convicted, the following penalties may apply:
- First offense: Jail for up to 90 days, a 6-month license suspension and fines up to $1,000
- Second offense: Jail for up to three years, one-year license suspension and fines up to $6,500
- Third offense: Jail for up to five years, two-year license suspension and fines up to $10,000
- Fourth offense: Jail for up to seven years, permanent license revocation and fines up to $10,000
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, charges can include violations such as manslaughter or hit-and-run, which will come with much more serious consequences.
Fighting a Charge
In some states, it is possible to plea a charge down to reckless driving in order to obtain lesser penalties. However, South Carolina does not permit the action. Instead, drivers may be able to build a compelling case around certain arguments, including how the chemical test was administered. An attorney may review the details surrounding the arrest and find mistakes such as a machine that was not calibrated properly, problems with chain of custody, and unlawful search and seizure. Additionally, there are some indicators associated with alcohol impairment that are not exclusive to drinking and driving. For example, slurred speech can be attributed to certain medical conditions, odd driving patterns can be chalked up to a defect in the vehicle and bloodshot eyes are often a sign of being overtired.
No matter the circumstances of the DUI charge, it is important to contact an experienced attorney. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we know how to dissect a case and secure the best possible outcome for clients. Allow our skilled defense attorneys to help you fight your drunk driving charge.
Source: South Carolina Legislature, “South Carolina Code of Laws,” 2014