How Blood Alcohol Concentration Affects DUI Penalties

Thomas Jeter • March 26, 2015

How Blood Alcohol Concentration Affects DUI Penalties

Last year, a North Carolina school bus driver was pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. According to court documents, the 63-year-old man registered an alcohol blood concentration of 0.16 on a breath test. In both North Carolina and South Carolina, that concentration equates to serious consequences.

Legal Limits

Drivers in the Carolinas should have a firm understanding of the laws regarding which BAC levels are illegal, as they vary based on age and license type. For the general population in both states, the “per se” blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent. Other laws regarding blood alcohol content include the following:

• The legal alcohol concentration for commercial license holders is 0.04 percent.
• The legal limit for underage drivers is 0.02 percent in South Carolina.
• North Carolina does not tolerate any blood alcohol concentration for underage drivers.

In both states, there is an implied consent law that mandates that drivers must submit to a breath test or face mandatory license suspension.

South Carolina Penalties

In South Carolina, drivers with a BAC of between 0.08 and 0.10 will face a fine of $400 and a sentence of between two and 30 days in jail. However, a court has the discretion to issue just two days in jail plus 48 hours of community service in lieu of a longer prison sentence.

For those who register between 0.10 and 0.16, the fine could be as much as $500 and the prison sentence between three and 30 days in jail. Again, a court could sentence a defendant to three days in jail and 30 days of community service instead of a longer prison stay.

Drivers who register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or higher could face even more serious consequences. The fine can be as much as $1,000 and the sentence can include as much as 90 days in jail, with a 30-day prison sentence minimum.

Each of these penalties are based on first offenses. The sentences will become even stricter for subsequent DUI charges. License suspension will also come into play with each of these charges.

North Carolina Ignition Interlock

In North Carolina, anyone who registers a 0.16 blood alcohol concentration or higher will have to have an ignition interlock device installed. Depending on the offender’s history, the device will remain in place for between one and seven years.

No matter what BAC someone registers, it is imperative to build a strong defense to the charges. A DUI conviction has serious repercussions that include license suspension or revocation, fines, jail time and permanent criminal record. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we understand how drunk driving laws work in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Allow us to help you preserve your driving record and your freedom.