There are many different types of DUI and DUI-related offenses in SC, including driving under the influence (DUI), driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), felony DUI, SC’s under 21 “zero tolerance” law, and DUI-related child endangerment laws.
There are also many different types of DUI with different names in other states – some are identical to SC’s DUI laws, while others require different types of proof.
What are the different types of DUI?
Types of DUI in SC
In SC, there are several types of DUI and DUI-related offenses, including DUI, DUAC, felony DUI, zero tolerance, and child endangerment laws.
DUI – Driving Under the Influence
A “normal” DUI in SC requires the state to prove that:
- You were driving,
- While intoxicated on alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, and
- You were intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.
The state doesn’t have to prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was greater than .08 – regardless of your breathalyzer, urinalysis, or blood test results, they must prove that you were intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.
You may be intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired at .08, or you may be intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired at .15, depending on your body size, gender, how much you’ve eaten, and your tolerance level.
How do they prove this? Through witness testimony, the officer’s testimony, videotaped evidence, and your test results if any. If you took the breathalyzer, the judge will instruct jurors at your trial that, if the result was:
- .05 or less: it is conclusively presumed that you were not under the influence of alcohol (but the officer might claim you were under the influence of other drugs),
- More than .05 but less than .08: there is no inference either way, and
- .08 or greater: it can be inferred that you were under the influence of alcohol.
Despite these inferences, you can present evidence to prove that your faculties to drive were not materially and appreciably impaired or that the breathalyzer results were wrong.
DUI or DUAC can be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th and subsequent offense, and the potential penalties increase substantially for each prior DUI within the past ten years.
DUAC – Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration
DUAC, or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, does not require the state to prove that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired – it only requires the state to prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08 or greater.
Despite this, you can still present evidence to prove that you were not intoxicated or that the machine was wrong. You can also argue before the trial starts that the breathalyzer test results should be excluded because they are inaccurate, because the officer did not follow the law, or because the officer did not follow SLED policy and procedure while administering the test.
Felony DUI requires the state to prove that:
- You were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs,
- You commit “any act forbidden by law” or neglect “any duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle,” and
- That “act or neglect proximately causes great bodily injury or death to another person.”
If someone else caused the accident, you are not guilty of felony DUI even if you are intoxicated (although you could still be charged with an “ordinary” DUI).
If you caused an accident that resulted in injury or death, but you were not under the influence, that’s also not felony DUI – it’s a civil cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death.
If you are convicted of felony DUI, it carries a potential penalty of up to a $10,100 fine and 30 days to 15 years in prison if there was great bodily injury, and it carries a potential penalty of up to a $25,100 fine and one year to 25 years in prison if there was a death.
You may have seen billboards or television commercials saying, “zero tolerance is the law in SC.” Those advertisements, paid for by law enforcement and DUI advocacy groups, are misleading.
Zero tolerance is not the law in SC unless you are under 21 years old. If you are under 21 years old and you 1) refuse the breathalyzer test or 2) take the test and the result is .02% or greater, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended.
If you are charged under SC’s zero tolerance law, the officer cannot later charge you with DUI – zero tolerance laws have an administrative penalty only and are intended to provide guidance to younger drivers without the harsh penalties associated with a DUI conviction.
If there were children in the vehicle who were younger than 16, you can also be charged with child endangerment if you are convicted of:
- Failure to stop for a blue light,
- DUAC, or
- Felony DUI.
If you are charged with DUI and child endangerment, you must be convicted of the DUI (or DUAC, felony DUI, or failure to stop) before you can be convicted of child endangerment (although the jurors will consider both charges in the same trial).
Types of DUI in Other States
What about in other states?
Many states have DUI-related offenses that are identical to or similar to our DUI laws in SC. Other states may require different types of proof for a DUI conviction, however.
For example, in states that have an “operating while intoxicated” statute, you can be convicted of OWI simply for sitting in your vehicle and turning on the radio or turning on the heater on a cold night, even if you are not driving. In contrast, SC’s driving under the influence statute requires that you must be behind the wheel driving while the vehicle is moving.
Other states may also separate DUI offenses for alcohol from DUI offenses for drugs, whereas SC’s DUI laws cover intoxication by both alcohol and drugs, or any combination.
Some examples of types of DUI offenses in other states include:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI),
- Operating while intoxicated (OWI),
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI),
- Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII),
- Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUI),
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or
- Aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI).
If you have been charged with DUI, DUAC, felony DUI, or a DUI-related offense in SC, contact a DUI defense lawyer on the Axelrod team immediately – we may be able to get your case dismissed and you may have defenses that you are not aware of.