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South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2930: Operating Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Under South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2930, the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is defined as the driving a motor vehicle within the State of South Carolina while under the influence of (1) alcohol OR (2) any other drug or combination of drugs OR (3) under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and substantially impaired.

To prove the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the State must be able to establish the following prima facie elements Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:

  • That the Defendant did drive a vehicle
  • In the State of South Carolina; and
  • That, in doing so, the Defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

“Faculties” must include mental and physical faculties.

A DUI offense in South Carolina requires that the vehicle be in motion while the defendant is driving. For example, a Defendant sitting behind the wheel of a parked car is not enough. The State must prove that the vehicle was in motion by direct or circumstantial evidence.

If a person’s alcohol concentration at the time of arrest is .08 or higher, it may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol. If the alcohol concentration at the time of arrest is greater than .05 but less than .08, this fact alone does not give rise to inference as to whether the individual was or was not under the influence of alcohol.

A person may be charged with a DUI on public or private property and/or public/private streets and roadways in the State of South Carolina. In contrast, North Carolina courts require the State to prove that the driving occurred on a public street or highway to sustain a conviction.

2. Examples

Defendant goes to a bar and proceeds to drink seven beers in an hour period. Defendant leaves bar and falls asleep in his car while the engine is running and the transmission is in gear. A patrolman finds Defendant leaning over the steering wheel asleep. Defendant cannot be convicted of Driving under the Influence because there is insufficient direct or circumstantial evidence to prove vehicle in motion.

Defendant crashes his car down an embankment. Defendant is intoxicated. A tow truck operator finds Defendant alone on the passenger side of the wrecked automobile. Tow truck operator calls the S.C. Highway Patrol. Defendant admits that he was driving at the time of the accident. Defendant can be convicted of Driving under the Influence.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. DWI and DUI Punishments in the Carolinas
  2. Driving Under the Influence in South Carolina
  3. Murder Charges in South Carolina
  4. SC DUI Laws
4. Defenses

There are many defenses that an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney can use in trial to beat a DUI charge. For a more detailed discussion regarding these defenses, please contact Chris J. Beddow at 704-342-4357.

5. Penalties
  1. First Offense: Fine of $400 OR a period of incarceration with a range between 48 hours (minimum) and 30 days (maximum). Your license will be suspended for six months by the S.C. DMV.
  2. Second Offense: Fine of not less than $2,100 nor more than $5,100 OR a period of incarceration with a mandatory minimum of five days in jail with a possible maximum punishment of one year. The fine cannot be suspended to an amount that is less than $1,100. Your license will be suspended for one year by the S.C. DMV.
  3. Third Offense: Fine of not less than $3,800 nor more than $6,300 AND a period of incarceration with a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days with a possible maximum punishment of 3 years. Your license will be suspended for two years by the S.C. DMV. If the prior DUI conviction occurred within 5 years, the S.C. DMV will suspend your license for four years.
  4. Fourth and subsequent offense (Felony): A period of incarceration for not less than 1 year imprisonment with a possible maximum sentence of 5 years. Your license will be permanently revoked by the S.C. DMV.
6. Criminal Defense for South Carolina DUI Charges

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in South Carolina, you need to consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. A DUI conviction can have a substantial impact on you economically, socially, and emotionally.

Please call 704-342-4357 immediately. You may also reach Chris Beddow by email: Chris@CarolinaAttorneys.com

Chris J. Beddow is the sole South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at Powers Law Firm, PA. and is therefore responsible for the content of all firm/website content contained herein relative to the South Carolina laws. Chris is also solely responsible for providing legal advice and representation for all South Carolina matters.

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