Zero-tolerance laws have been instituted by the government in South Carolina as well as in many other states. The zero tolerance laws mention issues regarding drinking and driving. According to the zero tolerance laws the state prohibits individuals below the legal drinking age of 21 years from consuming alcohol and later on driving. It is illegal for an individual below the age of 21 and is driving to have any traces of alcohol in their body,
In South Carolina, when an individual has a blood alcohol content or BAC that is higher than the legal blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 they will get an automatic license suspension for a period of 3 to 6 months. Other states may have a limit of a BAC higher than 0.02 in order to suspend the individual's license or they may have their own minimum level of intoxication that is similar to the zero tolerance level in SC. In some states, the allowable blood alcohol concentration measure for individuals is zero.
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South Carolina Zero Tolerance Law
In case a police officer suspects that an underage driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances they can charge the driver according to South Carolina’s zero-tolerance law. According to a traditional DUI, one would require a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher in order to get charged.
A driver under the age of 21 will only require a BAC of 0.02% or higher in order for them to get charged. What this means is that even one drink can result in the individual being above the legal limit. If the underage individual is suspended under the zero-tolerance law they will not be prosecuted for a criminal DUI.
The Zero Tolerance Suspension in South Carolina
Just like a driver above the age of 21 years a driver that is under 21 years is also considered to have given consent to chemical testing just by driving in South Carolina. A chemical test can test the blood, urine, or breath sample of the individual for the sole purpose of determining the presence of alcohol. In case an underage person gets arrested and the law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the individuals are under the influence of alcohol they can demand a chemical test.
If the individual refuses the chemical test as a first-time offender they risk facing a 6-month suspension. An individual that has had a previous conviction or that has had their license suspended for refusing to submit to a chemical test within the last years will have their license suspended for a year. Also, they will have to complete the Alcohol Prevention Education Program.
If after the sample is taken the underage driver records a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.02% or more they will have they will face a license suspension of 3 months if it is the first offense.
Fighting a Zero-Tolerance Suspension in South Carolina
There are instances whereby the suspension can be challenged. However, it is important for the implied consent hearing to be requested within a period of 30 days from the date the individual gets arrested. During the hearing, the driver will be able to challenge various issues such as the accuracy of the machine if the driver actually refused to take the breath test, if the arrest was lawful or if the driver had been adequately given information about the consequences of either blowing or not blowing.
In most instances as the driver waits for the verdict of the implied consent hearing, they can get a TAL or a Temporary Alcohol License which will allow them to drive around without any restrictions.
Options for Handling a Zero-Tolerance Suspension in South Carolina
If the driver decides not to challenge the suspension or even after challenging the suspension they lose they should consider other options available to them. The options include installing an ignition interlock device, getting a route-restricted license, or riding a moped.