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Will South Carolina lawmakers lower legal limit for DUI?

For several years now, the defined legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration among South Carolina drivers has been 0.08 percent. The law wasn’t always set at this benchmark, however. Federal officials pushed to reduce the legal limit and leveraged states to follow along by tying the issue to funding. Eventually, all 50 states complied.

There has been renewed talk about altering the legal limit associated with driving under the influence laws, which is determined on a state level. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board suggest that 0.05 percent should be the new standard for intoxication.

With this renewed effort in mind, many might wonder: How low is low enough?

After giving the issue some consideration, South Carolina public officials have responded to the NTSB suggestion. Right off the bat, readers might assume that law enforcement would be first among the supporters of a reduced legal limit. In reality, however, some have not been supportive. In voicing their opposition to changes, officials do not see a major difference between 0.08 and 0.05 percent. As such, they do not believe that it would be worthwhile to change the law in this way.

If the change is made, despite concerns from some in the law enforcement community, police would simply have another reason to arrest and charge more people.

At the same time, it’s worth considering that a person could be convicted for driving under the influence in South Carolina without ever hitting a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. The law allows charges to be pushed on anyway who demonstrates impairment, which could be subjective.

Moving forward, South Carolina drivers will want to be very careful. No matter what happens with the law, officers on patrol will still take a very hard line against drivers they think are intoxicated.

Source: WMBF News, “Federal agency wants to lower DUI limit to .05, SC authorities disagree,” Paula Caruso, July 1, 2014

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