DUI and DUAC in South CarolinaWhile every state in the United States has laws against DUI and all make a BAC of .08% the cut-off for determining whether a driver is driving impaired; each state adds their own flavor through other companion laws and statutes. In South Carolina, they have done this by adding a DUAC charge as an additional option for police and prosecutors to keep impaired drivers off the road.
What is DUAC?
DUAC stands for driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration. It differs from a traditional DUI or drunk driving in that it allows for a driver to be convicted purely on the fact that their BAC was at or over .08%. The penalties vary based on the severity of the BAC; the higher the BAC, the harsher the penalties. A DUAC usually comes into play when a driver has been pulled over for speeding or a busted tail light, something other than suspicion of drunk driving. That same driver can pass every field sobriety test and show no signs of being impaired, but blow a .08% on the breath test and be prosecuted for DUAC. The state assumes, due to your BAC, that you are too impaired to drive. It should be noted that this law only applies to alcohol.
Is it hard for the State to gain a DUAC conviction?While the states case hinges on the drivers BAC, there are some other extra requirements that the State must prove in a DUAC case. They are: * Was the defendants arrest lawful? * Is the arresting officer authorized to administer the on-site breath test? * Was the defendant given his rights (not just Miranda)? * Did the defendant agree to the breath test? * Did the defendant receive the breath test within two hours of his arrest? * Was the on-site breath test equipment in proper condition and been maintained with required records? * Was the breath test administered properly?
Proving the DUACProving a DUAC charge involves highly technical evidence and since the case will turn on the BAC, the accuracy of the test is of utmost importance. The jury must decide whether it will accept the BAC as an accurate measure, therefore the defense attorney will attack the test, the police officer(s) involved, and the machine used to acquire the reading. The Prosecutor cannot just present the number at trial, he must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the dependability and accuracy of his evidence.
Can the police change my drunk driving charge after my arrest?Yes, the police can arrest you for a DUI and then, once your breath or blood test results come in, change that charge to DUAC. The law does not permit the Prosecutor to charge you with both in one case. The officer must decide which charge to utilize no later than 30 days before the trial date. If you have been charged with a DUI or a DUAC in South Carolina, you should definitely consult with a DUI attorney in your area. He can look at your case and the specifics around it and help advise you on your best course of action.
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