SOUTH CAROLINA DUAC STATUTE

SC DUAC DEFINED / PENALTIES / ADSAP

In South Carolina, DUI is not the only crime involving drinking and driving.  There is a second crime, DUAC, that instead of requiring impaired driving, only required that the defendant was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than 0.08%.  In other states, this BAC level is treated as presumptive evidence of DUI meaning that a criminal judge or jury can infer alone from the BAC level that the accused was driving impaired.  In SC, no such presumption exists in DUI cases, and juries in SC DUI cases are instructed that BAC level is but one piece of evidence to be considered along with the other evidence presented.   Since in SC DUI cases juries are most often presented with at least the arresting officer’s testimony and video of everything that happened at the incident site and at the station in the breathalyzer room, there is considerable evidence beyond the mere BAC level.

Below is the South Carolina statute setting out the DUAC offense.

SECTION 56-5-2933. Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration; penalties; prosecution.

(A) It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the offense of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration and, upon conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail must be punished as follows:

(1) for a first offense, by a fine of four hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours nor more than thirty days. However, in lieu of the forty-eight hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for forty-eight hours of public service employment. The minimum forty-eight hour imprisonment or public service employment must be served at a time when the person is not working and does not interfere with his regular employment under terms and conditions the court considers proper. However, the court may not compel an offender to perform public service employment in lieu of the minimum forty-eight hour sentence. If the person’s alcohol concentration is at least ten one-hundredths of one percent but less than sixteen one-hundredths of one percent, then the person must be punished by a fine of five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than seventy-two hours nor more than thirty days. However, in lieu of the seventy-two hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for seventy-two hours of public service employment. The minimum seventy-two hour imprisonment or public service employment must be served at a time when the person is not working and does not interfere with his regular employment under terms and conditions as the court considers proper. However, the court may not compel an offender to perform public service employment in lieu of the minimum sentence. If the person’s alcohol concentration is sixteen one-hundredths of one percent or more, then the person must be punished by a fine of one thousand dollars or imprisonment for not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days. However, in lieu of the thirty-day minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for thirty days of public service employment. The minimum thirty days imprisonment or public service employment must be served at a time when the person is not working and does not interfere with his regular employment under terms and conditions as the court considers proper. However, the court may not compel an offender to perform public service employment instead of the thirty-day minimum sentence. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 22-3-540, 22-3-545, and 22-3-550, a first offense charged for this item may be tried in magistrates court;

(2) for a second offense, by a fine of not less than two thousand one hundred dollars nor more than five thousand one hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not less than five days nor more than one year. However, the fine imposed by this item must not be suspended in an amount less than one thousand one hundred dollars. If the person’s alcohol concentration is at least ten one-hundredths of one percent but less than sixteen one-hundredths of one percent, then the person must be punished by a fine of not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than five thousand five hundred dollars and imprisonment for not less than thirty days nor more than two years. However, the fine imposed by this item must not be suspended in an amount less than one thousand one hundred dollars. If the person’s alcohol concentration is sixteen one-hundredths of one percent or more, then the person must be punished by a fine of not less than three thousand five hundred dollars nor more than six thousand five hundred dollars and imprisonment for not less than ninety days nor more than three years. However, the fine imposed by this item must not be suspended in an amount less than one thousand one hundred dollars;

(3) for a third offense, by a fine of not less than three thousand eight hundred dollars nor more than six thousand three hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not less than sixty days nor more than three years. If the person’s alcohol concentration is at least ten one-hundredths of one percent but less than sixteen one-hundredths of one percent, then the person must be punished by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars nor more than seven thousand five hundred dollars and imprisonment for not less than ninety days nor more than four years. If the person’s alcohol concentration is sixteen one-hundredths of one percent or more, then the person must be punished by a fine of not less than seven thousand five hundred dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars and imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than five years; or

(4) for a fourth or subsequent offense, by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five years. If the person’s alcohol concentration is at least ten one-hundredths of one percent but less than sixteen one-hundredths of one percent, then the person must be punished by imprisonment for not less than two years nor more than six years. If the person’s alcohol concentration is sixteen one-hundredths of one percent or more, then the person must be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than seven years.

(B) No part of the minimum sentences provided in this section may be suspended. Instead of public service employment the court may invoke another sentence provided in this section. For a second or subsequent offense of this section, the service of the minimum sentence is mandatory. However, the judge may provide for the sentence to be served upon terms and conditions as he considers proper including, but not limited to, weekend service or nighttime service in any fashion he considers necessary.

(C) The fine for a first offense must not be suspended. The court is prohibited from suspending a monetary fine below that of the next preceding minimum monetary fine.

(D) For the purposes of this chapter a conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail for the violation of a law or ordinance of this or another state or a municipality of this or another state that prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or narcotics, including, but not limited to, Section 56-5-2930, or prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle with an unlawful alcohol concentration, including, but not limited to, this section, constitutes a prior offense of this section. Only those violations which occurred within a period of ten years including and immediately preceding the date of the last violation constitute prior violations within the meaning of this section.

(E) Upon imposition of a sentence of public service, the defendant may apply to the court to be allowed to perform his public service in his county of residence if he has been sentenced to public service in a county where he does not reside.

(F) One hundred dollars of each fine imposed pursuant to this section must be placed by the Comptroller General into a special restricted account to be used by the Department of Public Safety for the Highway Patrol.

(G) Two hundred dollars of the fine imposed pursuant to subsections (A)(3) must be placed by the Comptroller General into a special restricted account to be used by the State Law Enforcement Division to offset the costs of administration of the breath testing devices, breath testing site video program, and toxicology laboratory.

(I) A person charged for a violation of Section 56-5-2930 may be prosecuted pursuant to this section if the original testing of the person’s breath or collection of other bodily fluids was performed within two hours of the time of arrest and reasonable suspicion existed to justify the traffic stop. A person may not be prosecuted for both a violation of Section 56-5-2930 and a violation of this section for the same incident. A person who violates the provisions of this section is entitled to a jury trial and is afforded the right to challenge certain factors including the following:

(1) whether or not the person was lawfully arrested or detained;

(2) the period of time between arrest and testing;

(3) whether or not the person was given a written copy of and verbally informed of the rights enumerated in Section 56-5-2950;

(4) whether the person consented to taking a test pursuant to Section 56-5-2950, and whether the:

(a) reported alcohol concentration at the time of testing was eight one-hundredths of one percent or more;

(b) individual who administered the test or took samples was qualified pursuant to Section 56-5-2950;

(c) tests administered and samples obtained were conducted pursuant to Section 56-5-2950 and regulations adopted pursuant to Section 56-5-2951(O) and Section 56-5-2953(F); and

(d) machine was working properly.

(J) Nothing contained in this section prohibits the introduction of:

(1) the results of any additional tests of the person’s breath or other bodily fluids;

(2) any evidence that may corroborate or question the validity of the breath or bodily fluid test result including, but not limited to:

(a) evidence of field sobriety tests;

(b) evidence of the amount of alcohol consumed by the person; and

(c) evidence of the person’s driving;

(3) a video recording of the person’s conduct at the incident site and breath testing site taken pursuant to Section 56-5-2953 which is subject to redaction under the South Carolina Rules of Evidence; or

(4) any other evidence of the state of a person’s faculties to drive which would call into question the results of a breath or bodily fluid test.

At trial, a person charged with a violation of this section is allowed to present evidence relating to the factors enumerated above and the totality of the evidence produced at trial may be used by the jury to determine guilt or innocence. A person charged with a violation of this section must be given notice of intent to prosecute under the provisions of this section at least thirty calendar days before his trial date.

(K) For the purpose of this section, any offense carrying a penalty of imprisonment of ninety days or less may be tried in magistrates court.

(L) In cases in which enhanced penalties for higher levels of alcohol concentration may be applicable, upon the determination of guilt, the finder of fact shall determine the alcohol concentration and the judge shall apply the appropriate penalty.

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