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Is South Carolina moving forward with lowering the DUI limit?

An earlier posting in this blog discussed the NTSB's recommendation that state lower the threshold for the legal blood alcohol content level while driving a vehicle from .08 percent to .05 percent. This suggestion has met mixed reviews and it is clear that, if it passes, more people may be in need of a DUI defense if they are not very careful when drinking alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. However, South Carolina is looking into how this change in legislation would impact drunk driving and the state may be moving forward with making the change.

Last year alone, 26,000 people in South Carolina were arrested for drunk driving and driving under the influence kills more than 10,000 people annually. The NTSB is claiming that lowering the legal limit to .05 percent could save up to 800 lives each year. However, there are other impacts that legislation of this nature would have as well.

According to a South Carolina attorney, 10 percent more people would be charged with DUI which would mean more arrests, more people being charged with a crime and therefore more people needing a DUI defense attorney. However, he also believes that less people that are facing DUI charges for a low BAC like .05 will be convicted of drunk driving.

In addition, the passage of such legislation would likely have an impact on local businesses. They may see their customers' bar tabs reduce by as much as 50 percent. Some are concerned that this will negatively impact the economy because the responsible people just aren't going to be drinking as much if they need to drive themselves home.

Others also argue that lowering the DUI limit will not achieve the results that some believe it will because 68 percent of South Carolina's alcohol-related traffic fatalities last year were attributed to drivers with a BAC of more than .15. Lowering the limit from .08 to .05 would not have stopped these drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Even with all of these arguments in play, a Darlington County Senator has introduced a similar threshold reduction into legislation during this session. Although the Senator says it's not something people are yet committed to, he believes the debate needs to be started.

No matter what the legal limit for drunk driving, if someone is facing DUI charges the penalties for a conviction can be very serious.

Source: WISTV, "Per NTSB recommendation, state could lower DUI limit," PJ Randhawa, June 12, 2013

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