Call Today 803.359.3301
Should you accept a plea to DUAC?

Should you accept a plea to DUAC?

A common plea-offer made to those facing a South Carolina DUI charge is to plead guilty to DUAC. Should you accept this plea?

What is DUAC?

DUAC stands for Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. Although it is technically a different law than DUI, it has the exact same effect at the DMV. This means a suspended license, SR-22 insurance, and a requirement to complete the ADSAP course.

DUI and DUAC have almost identical court penalties as well. This means that the fine is almost the same between them, and they both carry the same possible jail sentence.

What are the advantages to DUAC over a DUI?

Maybe nothing.

DUI and DUAC are both criminal offenses. They both are reported to the DMV and both have the same effect there. A DUAC will enhance a subsequent DUI charge (so if you plead to DUAC now, you can still get charged with 2nd offense DUI later).

Some people may believe that it looks better to have a DUAC on their record than a DUI. That way if an employer asks “have you ever been convicted of DUI?” you can say “no.” I don’t know how much benefit this actually is, as a DUAC on the driving record will still preclude passing a DMV records check.

What about the criminal record?

South Carolina has a public criminal arrest record. This means that as soon as you are taken to the jail and booked for DUI the arrest shows up on your record. The only way to remove the DUI arrest is to avoid being convicted. This means you have to have the charge dismissed prior to trial, or be found not-guilty after a trial.

Here is where a DUAC might possibly have some benefit.

If, as part of the DUAC offer, the original DUI charge is dismissed and the record erased by the court; the end result will be a clean criminal history without record of the DUI arrest or DUAC plea. The DMV is still notified of the DUAC and you still have to deal with the suspension, SR-22 insurance, and ADSAP program. This is available in some, but not all, South Carolina courts.

If the expungement angle is not possible in a certain court then accepting a DUAC plea won’t result in the DUI arrest being erased. Instead a criminal records check will still show the DUI arrest and the DUAC plea.

  • Our DUI defense lawyers know which courts remove a DUI arrest, and which ones do not

If we’re able to negotiate the removal of the DUI arrest record, then there might be significant value to the offer. If that’s not possible, then there is really very little value (if any) to a DUAC offer.

Reduction in Alcohol Level

As part of most DUAC plea offers there will be an agreement to stipulate to a minimum blood alcohol level. This does create certain benefits, but they would be the same with either a DUI or DUAC plea at the same level.

If the original DUI has been enhanced by a high breath reading (anything over 0.15) or a refusal, then a plea (whether to DUAC or DUI) with a stipulated blood alcohol level of <0.10 will result in a minimum fine and no requirement to install an ignition interlock device. So there can be value to stipulating to the lowest-level of charge, regardless as if you call it DUI or DUAC.

If the underlying DUI also creates risk of a jail sentence (not just a fine); then a plea-agreement can also alleviate that uncertainty. (just to recap, DUI’s that might carry jail include those after an accident, high blood alcohol levels, rude behavior toward the police, those with children in the car, or those in certain courts known to regularly impose jail).

Should you accept a DUAC plea?

We regularly discuss with clients the pros and cons of the DUAC offer.

Our standing rule for all clients is that unless a DUI charge is being totally dismissed, or reduced in a way our client believes is in the best interest, then we want to fully contest it in court.

This means that unless our client believes that any plea offer, including DUAC, is in their best interest they should turn it down.

Of course there are occasions where someone might believe that accepting the offer is in their best interest. The decision isn’t one where there is a legally right or wrong one to make. It’s personal.

We do believe that before the decision is made that every DUI case deserves to be fully evaluated for possible defenses, so that the best possible decision can be made. There are possible circumstances that can result in any DUI case being dismissed by the court, and unfortunately there is no way to know unless and until a full evaluation of the evidence has been made. That means evaluating the roadside video, officer's incident report, witness statements, breathalyzer room video, field sobriety tests, breathalyzer results, blood or urine test procedures, roadside site conditions, along with anything else that can help evaluate the case.


Get Started Today

We're Available to Schedule Immediate, Same-Day Consultations
    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.