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New legislation allows guns and alcohol on the same premises

As readers of this blog are aware, there have been numerous previous postings discussing the penalties residents may face if they drive their vehicle while under the influence of too much alcohol. Driving while intoxicated is likely the most common alcohol-related criminal charge issued to residents of South Carolina. However, recently passed legislation now leaves residents prone to being charged with a crime for having any blood alcohol level even when they are not behind the wheel of their car.

South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley recently signed into law a bill that allows residents to carry firearms, whether concealed or not, into businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. The state does not set determining factors that qualify an establishment as a bar or restaurant. Therefore, firearms are now allowed in both types of establishments.

Although restaurant and bar owners can opt out by clearly posting that guns are not allowed on their premises, some are still concerned about the danger that a law allowing alcohol and guns on the same premises presents. The governor's rebuttal is that the law forbids those carrying firearms to consume alcohol. As a result, the law does not allow alcohol to play into an individual's judgment regarding whether they will use the weapon.

The next question some may be asking is what will prevent someone from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm. The answer is that the penalties associated with drinking while possessing a gun are meant to deter that very behavior. Those that violate the law may face a jail sentence, a monetary fine and potentially losing their permit to carry a weapon for up to five years.

With the expansion of this legislation, it is important that residents of South Carolina understand their rights when it comes to drinking alcohol. Anyone facing criminal charges for their consumption of alcohol, whether they arose from operating a motorized vehicle or not, may benefit from speaking with a criminal defense or DUI defense attorney who can help them understand their rights and the potential for avoiding a conviction and serious penalties.

Source: The State, "SC Gov. Haley says she backs carrying firearms without permits, training," Jamie Self, Feb. 11, 2014

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