What does the legal limit mean in a DUI arrest?

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Here’s a link to a recent DUI arrest in the Charleston, SC area: Post & Courier DUI article

The article in the Post & Courier leads with the driver “had a blood alcohol concentration nearly double the legal limit”. The article states that the “legal limit is .08 percent”. What exactly does the “legal limit” and .08 mean for you, me, or any one charged with DUI?

A blood alcohol level is expressed as hundredths of a percent of your total blood volume. So eight-hundredths of one percent is written as .08. A blood alcohol level is determined by the driver providing a breath sample into the Datamaster DMT (known as commonly as “the breathalyzer) or a blood draw from the driver and the sample is sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for testing. The Datamaster machines are available to law enforcement throughout the state and are maintained by SLED. Blood draws must be performed by a qualified medical professional.

People often assume that any blood alcohol level means that a person must be guilty of DUI. However, South Carolina laws provide guidance on what blood alcohol levels mean for drivers charged with DUI.  If a driver has a blood alcohol level of  .05 or less, a person is CONCLUSIVELY presumed not to be under the influence of alcohol. A blood alcohol level of .06-.08 is simply evidence that the person may be under the influence of alcohol. If a driver has a blood alcohol level above .08 the law states that it MAY BEinferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

Based on what our law states, it is clear that the blood alcohol level of a driver at .08 or above is simply one thing the jury may consider in determining whether a person is guilty of DUI. In a DUI trial, the government does not have to prove a blood alcohol level but rather the government must prove that a person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle were materially and appreciably impaired. The term “legal limit” is simply a catchy marketing tag line not a legal term.

If you’ve been charged with DUI in the Charleston area or anywhere in South Carolina. Don’t hesitate to contact me for a free consultation. Having a knowledgeable DUI lawyer can help protect your rights.

Have questions about DUI? Feel free to contact me directly:

(843) 970-2827


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