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Square Peg In a Round Hole: South Carolina’s DUAC Charge

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Everyone has a pretty good idea what a DUI—Driving Under the Influence—charge is, but when folks in Spartanburg County get charged with DUAC, they are understandably confused what that means.

We’re here to clear up the confusion. Here are some basics on what a DUAC is:

The Charge

DUAC stands for Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. You can be convicted of a DUAC if the State proves—beyond a reasonable doubt—you drove with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, as shown by your breath test. While it sounds like a slam dunk, it’s really not.

In keeping with our State’s tradition of preserving the American Revolution’s ideals against giving the government overwhelming power, our Legislature has provided very important defenses that can be utilized by an experienced DUAC lawyer to help win your case. Some of the most important defenses are discussed below.

DUAC Defenses

DUAC is not a trial by breath test machine. The law gives DUAC suspects very important defenses; with them, a skilled DUAC defense lawyer can convince a judge to dismiss your case before trial or convince a jury to acquit you. Some of the most important are:

  • Video violations. South Carolina law basically requires all DUI arrests and breath tests to be taped, with certain exceptions. The videos must show the officer taking certain steps, such as informing you of your legal rights. The videos must also contain certain specific aspects of the investigation. Violations of this law can lead to dismissal of the case, even if the evidence against you seems overwhelming.
  • The legality of the officer stopping or arresting you. If the video contains no evidence of a traffic violation justifying the stop, or if the State presents no testimony of a witness who saw bad driving, the case might be dismissed.
  • The time between arrest and testing. All breath tests must occur within two hours of arrest. Depending on the actual time gap, you might develop a convincing argument that when you actually drove, your blood alcohol level was below .08 percent. This may require testimony from a toxicologist.
  • The legality of how the officer gave the test. State law strictly regulates how officers give breath tests. An improperly given test might be the basis for a motion to dismiss the case. Naturally, you can’t know if the officer gave the test right if you aren’t familiar with the regulations. That’s what you pay a DUAC defense lawyer for.
  • The machine didn’t work right. Defense attorneys know how to research your breath test machine’s past and even the test given to you to see if the machine had problems. If evidence of defects or malfunctions is effectively presented, the jury might be convinced not to rely on your breath test result, leading to an acquittal.
  • The catch-all. South Carolina law allows a DUAC suspect to present any evidence that questions the validity of the breath test result. The most important evidence often is the defendant’s good driving right before being pulled over. We can also present evidence that the amount of alcohol consumed wasn’t that much or occurred a long time before the defendant drove. For an experienced DUAC lawyer, videos of your conduct may contain a wealth of evidence that can indicate the breath test was wrong. If presented properly to a jury, this evidence can lead to an acquittal.

What’s at Stake in a DUAC Case: Your Freedom, Your Livelihood, and Your Future

The single most important thing to know about DUAC is that it carries the same penalties as a DUI.

While it doesn’t sound as bad as DUI, the stakes for a DUAC suspect are every bit as high as for a DUI charge. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be intimidated. While it seems like it would be easy to convict you, remember our law gives you extra protection, with many ways to get the case dismissed or convince a jury your breath test was wrong or unreliable.

In our experience, it’s almost impossible for a defendant to win a DUAC case without an experienced defense lawyer representing them. If you’re charged with this offense, you owe it to yourself to at least meet with an attorney who regularly handles these cases and find out whether he can help you.

We would be delighted to meet with you for free to help you assess your defenses and talk about your case in detail. Feel free to schedule your appointment by calling our office at 864-582-0416 or toll-free at 888-230-1841, or start a live chat from our website. If you have any other questions about these cases, you can also download a free copy of The Terrible Price of a DUI Conviction & Defenses You Might Not Know About here.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a South Carolina personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.
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