Most people make the assumption that the legal limit in South Carolina is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. If you are over this limit, it becomes illegal to drive due to the risk of impairment. This limit is used in most states, so drivers often repeat this statistic and new drivers are told about it when they take training classes.
However, it can be problematic to assume that the legal limit is always 0.08%. As you will see, there are groups for which this does not apply, and drivers need to be aware of the actual limit that they need to follow depending on the nature of their unique situation.
Zero tolerance laws
For one thing, like other states, South Carolina has zero-tolerance laws. This means that someone who is under 21 years old cannot drive if their BAC reading is anywhere over 0.02%. This is enough to show that it’s not a false reading, in many cases, and to show that that individual has been drinking. Because they are under 21 and so it is illegal for them to drink at all, even a minor amount of alcohol can trigger impaired driving charges.
This can be problematic because a driver may not actually be impaired at a BAC of 0.02%. But because of their age, they have to follow a vastly stricter standard.
Another example is that commercial drivers have a BAC limit that is half that of all other drivers. They are supposed to adhere to a limit of 0.04%. The reasoning for this is that commercial drivers are uniquely responsible for the safety of others. A semi-truck driver may be operating a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 pounds, so there is a greater risk of harm if they cause an accident.
Are you facing charges?
You may find yourself facing legal charges, even though you didn’t think that you were over the legal limit when you got behind the wheel. If this happens, be sure that you are well aware of the defense options at your disposal.