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Charleston DUI Law Blog

What are the time constraints on a blood alcohol test?

You know that a blood alcohol test measures the concentration of alcohol -- or ethanol -- in your blood. These tests contribute to DUI charges and arrests because they help police determine if you've been drinking in a more conclusive way than just field sobriety tests. However, are you wondering how soon a test can work and how long it will be good for?

The first thing to know is that the alcohol only needs to be in your body for a few minutes in order for the test to pick it up. As soon as you take a drink, it's safe to assume that you're going to register on a test. This is important to note because you may not even feel the effects of the alcohol yet, but you can still be charged if a test is used and you're over the legal limit.

Be aware of boating under the influence laws

In the hottest days of summer, nothing may sound more relaxing than taking your boat out and drinking a nice cold beer. If you do, though, you need to be aware that there are laws prohibiting boating under the influence, just as there are laws against driving while intoxicated. A surprising number of people don't even know that they can be charged for this, so they make mistakes that could easily have been avoided.

The reason the laws are on the books is that the U.S. Coast Guard found that boating under the influence significantly increases the odds that an accident will be fatal. In fact, the chances of a fatality go up by an amazing 34 percent.

Attorney General calls for people to take cabs or call Uber

Alan Wilson is the attorney general in South Carolina, and he recently penned an opinion piece calling for people to stop driving after drinking in the state. In it, he asked those who wanted to go out and drink to either call a local cab company or to use Uber, a mobile app that allows people to contract drivers online.

First, he noted that alcohol has been linked to roughly 88,000 deaths each year; this is for the entire United States, not just South Carolina. He said that there are only two preventable causes of death that take more lives. It's important to note that he was referring to all cases in which alcohol was involved, not just DUI cases. For instance, overdosing could contribute to these statistics.

What changes happened to the ignition interlock system?

The ignition interlock system started in 2007 in South Carolina. This system, which essentially puts a device on a person's car that tests his or her breath for alcohol before allowing the car to start, came about as a result of the Prevention of Underage Drinking and Access to Alcohol Act. However, some changes were made to it in 2014, when the government passed a new regulation known as Emma's Law.

The first major change was that any person who blew more than a .15 in Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) had to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This was true even if it was the person's first offense.

What you must know about refusing a breath test

You always have a right to refuse a breath test if you are pulled over for a DUI. However, some people throw this information around as if refusing will get you out of the whole thing without any penalty, and this is not the case. If you have been told never to take breath tests, there are a few things that you should know about exactly what this refusal is going to mean.

How does alcohol impact you as you continue drink?

The reason that the legal limit for drinking as been set at a blood alcohol concentration of .08 is that alcohol impacts you differently as your BAC climbs. This does not mean that you won't feel the impact at all if it's below .08, however. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, relaxation, loss of judgement and a slight impairment of your ability to follow moving objects can start at just .02.

As you get up to .05, you can start to feel the effects more drastically, and you may even lose just a little bit of muscle control. You also won't be as alert, your judgment may be altered, and you could begin to have trouble steering. You'll still feel pretty good at this point.

Can I challenge a blood test?

Whether through the use of blood or breath, the legitimacy of testing has often been called into question. The accuracy of the results, the efficiency of the apparatus itself and the training of the law enforcement officer have all been scrutinized.

On the surface, it would seem that chemical testing on an individual’s blood is iron-clad. Upon a positive result, law enforcement has now built a strong case proving that a driver was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fortunately, there are ways to challenge a blood test.

The moped loophole will be no more in South Carolina

For those accused of driving under the influence, there's been a long-standing loophole if they were caught driving a moped. The law made it so that people could be intoxicated and use a moped without penalty. Some people have been arrested for this, but a number of the cases have been thrown out.

However, a proposal was made and recently approved by the Senate in South Carolina to get rid of this loophole. The change is a minor one, simply stating that a moped counts as a motor vehicle, just like a car or a truck, and that drivers are therefore bound by the same DUI laws. This has not taken effect yet, but the change is on the horizon since the approval was given by vote.

Man from South Carolina was drunk during wrong-way accident

A man got onto the New York State Thruway going in the wrong direction, and he ended up causing a crash that left three people with injuries. The police are now reporting that the man, who is from South Carolina, was drunk when this accident took place, perhaps explaining why he was heading against traffic. They said that his BAC came in at .15, which is just under double the limit of 0.08.

The three people who were hurt are all expected to recover, as the injuries are not said to be life-threatening.

Teens still drink and drive in South Carolina

Some reports show that teen drinking and driving is actually going down, both in South Carolina and all across the United States. In fact, comparing the numbers from 1991 with those gathered in 2012 shows that drunk driving by teens fell by more than half -- 54 percent -- in roughly 20 years.

However, it's important to note that this movement does not mean it is no longer an issue. Ten percent of all teens still drink and drive. These drivers die in accidents far more often than those who do not drink and drive, with drivers who fall between the ages of 16 and 20 clocking in at a full 17 percent more likely to pass away if their blood alcohol concentration goes over the legal limit of .08 percent.

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