South Carolina considering lowering BAC limit

A DUI conviction in South Carolina comes with substantial fines and penalties. Soon, more South Carolina residents may be facing these penalties. Federal and state legislators are considering lowering the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC), with the goal of decreasing the number of alcohol-related accidents. WISTV reports that approximately 26,000 South Carolina residents were arrested and charged with DUI last year.

Lower limit comes from federal recommendation

According to WISTV, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all states consider lowering their legal BAC limit to .05 percent. The NTSB claims that lowering the BAC limit would save at least 800 lives per year. The legal limit in South Carolina is currently .08.

A South Carolina state senator recently acted on this recommendation by introducing similar reduction legislation. The senator notes that this legislation may encourage debate on how to make the state’s highways safer.

South Carolina was previously ranked first nationally in terms of alcohol-related accidents. The number now appears to be decreasing, falling from 44 percent to 38 percent in 2012. The state is currently ranked seventh nationally.

A DUI conviction has harsh penalties

It is estimated that a lower BAC limit would result in a 10 percent increase in DUI arrests, potentially leading to more DUI convictions , according to the WISTV report. This could result in harsh consequences for convicted individuals. Penalties for an initial DUI conviction in South Carolina currently include:

• A six-month driver’s license suspension

• Mandatory participation in an alcohol assessment and treatment program

• Fines and potential jail time

Repeat offenders also face the possibility of having an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. An IID prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on a driver’s breath above a certain percentage, such as .02 percent. Vehicle confiscation is also possible after a third offense.

A driver may also face enhanced penalties depending on the circumstances. For example, a driver with a BAC of .16 percent or higher could be charged with aggravated DUI and be subject to increased penalties. Actions such as injuring another individual or refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer could also result in higher penalties.

Because of the serious nature of the consequences involved, an individual charged with DUI could benefit by speaking with an attorney familiar with DUI cases. A qualified attorney can investigate all of the circumstances surrounding the incident and help with reducing the potentially negative effects of a DUI conviction.