bac limits and implied consent laws

South Carolina is cracking down on drunk driving. It’s why the laws and regulations in place are so strict—the goal is to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink. Two such rules that the state has enacted to protect people on the road are the blood alcohol content limit and the implied consent law. Both can impact the charges levied against you if you’re arrested and charged with DUI. Your South Carolina DUI defense lawyer wants you to be prepared. Here’s what you need to know about these important laws.

South Carolina’s BAC Limit Follows Federal Guidelines

Under South Carolina law, drivers are prohibited from getting behind the wheel with BAC levels of 0.08% or higher. This is the same limit recognized across the country for adults. However, federal law allows states to set their own limits for drivers under 21 years of age. In South Carolina, there’s a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinkers. If you have a BAC of 0.02% or higher and you’re under 21, you could be charged with an underage DUI. These limits apply to out-of-state drivers as well. 

The Implied Consent Law Explained

The implied consent law says that any driver operating a motor vehicle in South Carolina gives their implied consent to blood alcohol content screenings if they’re pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. Those screenings can consist of breath tests, urine tests, or blood tests, but officers must first offer to perform a breath test

Drivers Can Request Independent Screenings

If you’re not comfortable with the police administering a breath or blood test, you’re free to request a screening from an independent service provider. Often, screenings can be performed at area hospitals, and the officers pulling you over are legally required to provide safe transportation to the hospital for your screening. 

This can be especially beneficial if you believe you’re being unfairly targeted by law enforcement. Individuals administering tests at medical facilities often lack the biases that many officers have. Further, their equipment may be better maintained, resulting in more accurate screenings. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for the test out of pocket.

You’re Free to Refuse a Test, But You Shouldn’t

Though the state has an implied consent law on the books, you are free to refuse a test at the time of your arrest. While it might be tempting to do so if you know you haven’t done anything wrong, you can expect the state to hold that refusal against you if you go to court. Why? Because refusing a BAC screening makes it look like you’re guilty. It makes law enforcement feel like you’re intentionally hiding your BAC level because you know you’ve had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel. Law enforcement may also suspend your driver’s license if you refuse, which can make the rest of your life more difficult.

What to Do if You’re Arrested for DUI

The best thing you can do if you’re arrested is to cooperate with the police. Remember, refusing to take a breath or blood test can have serious consequences. And even if you blow a positive breath test and show that you have alcohol in your system, those results may be misleading. 

Speak with a South Carolina DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible and let them represent your interests.

Let Truslow & Truslow Help

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, know that you have options. At Truslow & Truslow, we know that mistakes happen, and we believe that every driver is entitled to the best defense possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.