South Carolina is now trying to increase penalties for those arrested and charged with DUI in the state. A new bill which is currently proposed in SC is aiming to pose higher penalties for those arrested for DUI. Currently in SC drivers who are arrested for DUI and refuse to take the breathalyzer test will lose their driver’s license for 90 days. If the new bill passes if a driver refuses to take the test he will have his license suspended for 1 year. However if a driver does take the breathalyzer test the length of the driver’s license suspension will vary depending on his BAC at the time the breathalyzer is administered. Other parts of the bill that are proposed will increase jail time for DUI depending on the driver’s BAC. In SC right now penalties for DUI may range from 48 hours to 5 years in prison. Under the new bill if a driver blows between .08 and .010 he will spend 48 hours in jail while those who blow a 0.16 or above on a 4th offense or more will face 7 years in prison. While the law should punish those who are posing a hazard while driving, potential issues with the proposed law may unfairly enforce stricter punishment on those who may not deserve a harsher penalty such as losing the ability to driver for 1 year.
The DUI attorneys of Reeves Aiken & Hightower LLP stand ready to fight for you if you have been charged with DUI in SC. We encourage you to visit our website at www.rjrlaw.com and compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. You can then call us toll-free at 877-374-5999 for a private, confidential consultation to review your particular case.
South Carolina DUI Bill Aims to Step Up the Fight Against Drunk Driving in the State
A proposed South Carolina DUI bill would mandate one-year driver’s license suspensions following breath test refusals, align DUI penalties with rising BAC levels on a tiered system of severity, and dramatically change the DUI laws in the state.
A subcommittee of the S.C. Impaired Driving Prevention Council unanimously passed a DUI bill on January 22nd which would up the ante for a South Carolina breathalyzer refusal from the current penalty of a 90-day license suspension to a one-year suspension. If the bill passes the full council, it could be introduced to the state legislature by early February, according to an online story of The State.
Specifically, the proposed drunken driving bill would attempt to stiffen South Carolina DUI laws that many critics feel are some of the weakest in the country and have contributed to the state having top-ten death rates in alcohol-related crashes in the past.
Under the new bill:
- DUI penalties would increase with blood alcohol levels and the number of offenses. For example, a first time offender who registers a BAC of 0.08% (the legal limit in all 50 states) but less than 0.10% would spend 48 hours in jail. Fourth and subsequent offenses of driving with a level of at least 0.16% would face seven years in prison. Current South Carolina DUI penalties range from 48 hours in jail to five years in prison, regardless of BAC levels.
- Failing a breathalyzer test would mean different lengths of driver’s license suspensions based on BAC. The proposed bill would automatically suspend a driver’s license for two months for any suspect who blows a 0.10% or higher. Current South Carolina DUI law mandates an automatic 30-day suspension for suspects who register BAC levels of 0.15%. Under the new DUI bill, the suspension would be six months for BAC levels at 0.20% or higher.
- DUI language would be changed. Current South Carolina DUI law makes it illegal to be “driving under the influence”. The new bill would change the language to “operating under the influence,” which some opponents believe would allow a person who is sitting in a parked but running car to be stopped on suspicion of DUI.
- South Carolina police would not be required to warn DUI suspects about self-incrimination before administering breath and field sobriety tests.
Like most pieces of legislation, the 27-page South Carolina DUI bill has its proponents and opponents. Jeff Moore, Chairman of the council subcommittee that drafted the bill, said in The State story that he believes the legislation can make a difference if passed. One South Carolina DUI lawyer complained in the story that the bill would be unfair to certain types of suspects.
Regardless of these conflicting opinions, the new South Carolina DUI bill reflects an increased effort by the state to crackdown on drunk driving. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford recently called for tougher DUI laws in his State Address.
This proposed bill is a good example of how proposed changes to DUI laws in not only South Carolina but many other states are commonly seen at this time each year, and how drunk driving is an issue requiring constant attention, monitoring and progress.
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