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Why am I being charged with DUI <0.10 when I didn’t blow?

Why am I being charged with DUI <0.10 when I didn’t blow?

About 40% of those offered a DUI breath test in South Carolina refuse. A really common question that they have when the meet with us is why then are they charged with less than a 0.10 BAC.

BAC stands for blood alcohol content, and is a measure of how much alcohol is in someone’s system.

South Carolina has three levels of DUI. Low, medium and high. The only way you get charged with the upper levels is by voluntarily blowing into the breath machine or agreeing to a blood test.

If you refuse the test then you’re automatically charged with the lowest level. It’s still a DUI, which is bad enough, but at lest the possible jail sentence is now limited to only 30 days and the maximum fine is only $1,022. At the highest level the jail time is up to 90 days and the fine is $2,267. It still carries a lifetime criminal record, license suspension, SR-22 insurance, and a requirement to complete the ADSAP course. 

The low level DUI is for refusals and BAC’s from 0.00-0.10.

Medium level is 0.11 – 0.15.

High level is 0.16 and above.

Most people who do blow end up in one of the higher levels. After examining every breath test in Lexington and Richland County over a multi-year period we learned that the average alcohol reading is 0.14 and over 50% of takers score into the highest level of DUI.

Although a refusal results in the lowest level charge they do also come with an automatic license suspension, and if convicted a requirement to install an ignition interlock device. The automatic license suspension can, and should be challenged. We can help our clients obtain a legal driving credential quickly (usually in just a couple business days).

The computer system that prints tickets and the jail paperwork you’ve received isn’t programmed to identify refusal cases as refusals. Instead it prints out DUI <.10 to reflect the lowest DUI tier.


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