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Can you receive a DUI if your BAC is below the legal limit?

In South Carolina, like in most other states, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. While this limit applies to most motorists, you may wonder whether it is possible to receive DUI charges if your BAC is beneath it. In most circumstances, this outcome is unlikely to happen. Yet, if you are under age 21, or if you have a commercial driver's license (CDL), you can receive DUI charges with a BAC far lower than the legal limit.

Exceptions to South Carolina's legal limit

South Carolina's BAC limits are lower for underage motorists and commercial operators than for most other persons. Motorists under age 21 must abide by the state's zero tolerance laws. These laws prohibit underage motorists from operating a vehicle with more than a trace amount of alcohol in their system. Underage motorists whose BACs register at 0.02% or higher during a traffic stop will receive DUI charges in South Carolina. These charges will come with an automatic license suspension, even for first-time offenders.

The state's BAC limit for commercial operators, in certain cases, is only slightly higher than for underage motorists. CDL holders will receive DUI charges if their BAC registers at 0.04% or higher during a traffic stop in a commercial vehicle. As a result of these charges, they will be unable to operate commercial vehicles for one year. CDL holders will face similar consequences if they refuse to submit to BAC testing, or if they register a BAC of 0.08% or higher during a traffic stop in their personal vehicle.

Protecting your driving privileges

If your age or profession holds you to a lower BAC limit than other South Carolina motorists, you will likely fear your consequences if you receive DUI charges. Your charges could have a wide-ranging impact, including on your driving privileges and your insurance rates. If you are an underage student, your DUI charges could harm your academic standing, as well as any scholarships you may have. Whether you are underage or a CDL holder, your charges could affect your employment.

Depending on the nature of your case, you may have ways to lessen the impact of your DUI charges. A criminal defense attorney can help you fight to mitigate their effects.

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