Are There Different Types of DUI in SC?

There are several different types of DUI offenses in SC. In addition to the “standard” DUI offense, SC also has a per-se DUI offense called DUAC or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration.

SC has several “felony DUI” offenses that apply when someone is injured or killed as a result of drunk driving. There are also several “DUI-related offenses,” like child endangerment and implied consent violations.

Below, I’ll discuss each of the different types of DUI in SC, including some of the consequences for a DUI conviction like license suspensions and habitual offender status or license revocation.

What are the Different Types of DUI in SC?

Driving under the influence offenses go by many different names in SC and other states, including:

  • driving under the influence (DUI),
  • 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),
  • driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC),
  • felony DUI, and
  • aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI).

The types of DUI in SC, however, including driving under the influence (DUI), driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), and felony DUI.

Driving Under the Influence

An “ordinary” DUI in SC requires proof that you were 1) driving, 2) while intoxicated, 3) to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.

If you blew a .09 on the breathalyzer are you guilty of DUI? Not necessarily – DUI in SC requires more than proof of your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you were not materially and appreciably impaired, you are not guilty of DUI.

The breathalyzer, urinalysis, or blood test may be evidence of your level of impairment, along with testimony from the arresting officer, the videos from the traffic stop and Datamaster room, and other witness testimony, but you have the right to rebut that evidence to show that you were not materially and appreciably impaired.

To be clear – it is not against the law to drink and drive in SC. It is against the law to drive after drinking to the point where your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.

Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration

Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, or DUAC, on the other hand, requires only proof that your BAC was greater than .08. Under the DUAC law, it does not matter if you appeared cold sober if the breathalyzer or blood test proves that your BAC was greater than .08 (although it might matter to a jury).

DUAC, or per-se laws, were forced on every state by the federal government, which threatened to withhold federal highway funds from any state that didn’t fall in line…

Felony DUI

Felony DUI is charged in SC when a person is intoxicated, causes an accident, and someone is seriously injured or killed as a result.

For a felony DUI conviction, the state must prove:

  • the person was driving under the influence;
  • the person violated a traffic law or a duty to other motorists (they were negligent); and
  • that violation was the “proximate cause” of great bodily injury or death.

It’s not enough that a person causes an accident, and someone is injured or killed – that’s civil negligence, not criminal. The state must also prove that the person was intoxicated.

It’s not enough that a person is under the influence and there is an accident – if someone else’s negligence caused the accident, there may be a DUI but it is not felony DUI. Similarly, if the injury or death was not proximately caused by the DUI defendant’s negligence, there is no felony DUI.

What are Other Types of DUI-Related Offenses in SC?

There are several other crimes in SC that are related to DUI offenses, that result from a DUI conviction, or that are often charged along with a DUI offense.

Child Endangerment

If a person is charged with DUI in SC and there are children younger than 16 years old in the vehicle, they can also be charged with child endangerment:

(A) A person eighteen years of age or older is guilty of child endangerment when:

(1) the person violates:

(a) Section 56-5-750;

(b) Section 56-5-2930;

(c) Section 56-5-2933; or

(d) Section 56-5-2945; and

(2) the person has one or more passengers younger than sixteen years of age in the motor vehicle when the violation occurs.

Child endangerment can be charged along with any DUI offense or when a person is charged with failure to stop for a blue light while children are present in the vehicle.

Implied Consent Violations

Implied consent violations are not considered a “crime” in SC – they are handled in a separate, “administrative” proceeding and the penalties are considered civil only, resulting in license suspensions, ADSAP requirements, and, in some cases, placement of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

Many DUI arrests also result in implied consent violations for either refusal to take the breathalyzer or for a breathalyzer result greater than .15 – if you have an implied consent violation in addition to your DUI charge, contact your DUI lawyer immediately because you will lose your right to challenge the implied consent violation if you do not make a hearing request within 30 days of your arrest.

Habitual Traffic Offender Status

Although habitual traffic offender status is not a “crime” and is not technically related to DUI, it is often a consequence of a DUI conviction and can lead to the crime of violating your habitual traffic offender status.

If you accumulate three or more “major” traffic violations within three years, including DUI, DUAC, or reckless driving, your license will be revoked.

After this, if you are caught driving, you will be charged with violation of the habitual traffic offender laws (punishable by up to five years in prison) instead of the lesser, magistrate level driving under suspension (DUS).

Charleston, SC DUI Defense Lawyer

Grant B. Smaldone is a SC DUI defense lawyer based in Charleston, SC, whose law practice is focused on criminal defense and DUI charges in the Charleston area.

If you have been charged with a crime in state or federal court in SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or contact us online to talk to a Charleston, SC criminal defense attorney today.


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