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Many South Carolinians will not hesitate to profess their love of Fireball whiskey. However, the costs of combining that love with a joy ride to, say, Myrtle Beach are steep. South Carolina takes drunk driving very seriously -- you can even lose your license for six months just for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or a related offense, you should get to know South Carolina drunk driving laws and the possible penalties you may face if you're convicted.
In South Carolina, it's illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol (Sec. 56-5-2930(A)). To determine if a driver is drunk, a police officer will normally conduct a field sobriety test and a check of your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). If you're over 21, you're presumed drunk if your BAC is .08 percent or more (Sec. 56-5-2950(G)(3)). If it's between .05 percent and .079, and you show signs of impairment (such as a failed field sobriety test), the officer may conclude that you're driving drunk and arrest you (Sec. 56-5-2950(G)(2)).
Additionally, South Carolina is a so-called "zero tolerance" state, which means that people who aren't yet 21 years old may not drive with a BAC greater than .02 percent (Sec. 56-1-286). Doing so results in an automatic driver's license suspension for at least three months.
South Carolina drunk driving laws require the following when testing sobriety:
If you're convicted of drunk driving in South Carolina, you could face very serious consequences, which vary depending on your age, BAC level, whether you have previous convictions, and other circumstances. South Carolina statutes include the following penalties for driving under the influence:
Read the full text of the South Carolina Code of Laws for more details.
Even if you only feel "a little buzzed," you will be arrested if you've been driving and your BAC is over the legal limit. However, even if you've been arrested for a DUI, you can challenge the BAC testing equipment, the procedures used by law enforcement, and the reason for the traffic stop, among other things. An experienced DUI defense attorney can explain the post-arrest process, guide you through your legal options, and help protect your rights.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.