teenager arrested

Most people realize that it is against the law to consume alcoholic beverages in an amount that impairs their ability to safely drive in South Carolina. However, an illegal amount of alcohol will vary depending on many factors. While some people may be able to quickly metabolize alcohol and not feel powerful effects even after many drinks, others will feel the impact almost immediately.

One group of people upon whom alcohol can have a pronounced effect are those under the age of 21. For this and many other reasons, state law prohibits these people from consuming any amount of alcohol. At the same time, a state law called the “Zero Tolerance” rule says that a person under 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system cannot legally drive a vehicle. The legal team at Truslow & Truslow PA is here to provide more information about these “Zero Tolerance” cases and how they can impact a young person’s present and future.

DWI Cases Under South Carolina Law

South Carolina’s drunk driving statute is present at South Carolina Code § 56-5-2930. This says that it is against the law for any person to operate a vehicle on a public highway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This applies regardless of a person’s age.

Because of this, even a person under the age of 21 may face a DWI charge if they exceed the .08 percent blood/alcohol content limit after a blood, breath, or urine test. In other cases, a police officer can make an arrest based merely on their observations of the alleged drunk driver. Convictions here can bring a variety of penalties, such as:

  • Jail sentences
  • Community services
  • Heavy fines
  • License suspension

People facing allegations of DUI will need to appear in criminal court to answer these allegations. 

“Zero Tolerance” and DUI Cases

By contrast, accusations under South Carolina’s “Zero Tolerance” laws are not matters for the criminal court. In situations where an underage driver takes a blood/alcohol test and registers an amount of .02 percent or more, the officer can make an arrest. A refusal to submit to a test will also justify an officer’s arrest.

The arrest will move to the motor vehicle department and could result in a loss of license for three months. If a person has a prior alcohol-related offense on their record, this suspension will extend to six months. 

It is important to understand that a police officer cannot charge a person under the age of 21 under both the “Zero Tolerance” law and South Carolina’s DUI statute. As a result, arresting officers will often use the results of a blood/alcohol test to determine under which statute to make an arrest.

Helping Young People Facing License Suspension Under South Carolina’s “Zero Tolerance” Law

While an allegation of a violation of South Carolina’s “Zero Tolerance” law is not a criminal accusation, it can still have severe consequences. A finding of guilt comes with a mandatory three-month loss of license and can result in much higher insurance rates.

Fighting back against supposed “Zero Tolerance” accusations requires quick action. South Carolina law says that people seeking to challenge a license suspension must request a court hearing no more than 30 days after the date of an arrest. The legal team at Truslow & Truslow PA is ready to help guide young drivers through this process and can make powerful legal arguments to help preserve their driving privileges. Reach out today to hear more.