Is there any real difference between DUI and DUAC
In the past, driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, or DUAC, was offered as a plea bargain in DUI cases. If accepted, the officer would dismiss the original DUI charge and then “rewrite” the DUAC ticket. If done properly, the new DUAC conviction would not result in a permanent criminal record. Instead, it would go on a person’s driving record and subsequently drop off like any other traffic violation. Such plea offer worked in many cases for those individuals who wanted to avoid a conviction that can never be expunged. Now, things have changed, and in practical terms, there is no longer any real difference between a DUI and a DUAC. The punishment is the same, and both charges result in a permanent criminal record.
What the State has to prove in DUAC cases
To convict someone of the misdemeanor of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
- operated a motor vehicle,
- in the State of South Carolina in the county where arrested, and
- had a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more.
As you would expect, to charge someone with DUAC, the police must have performed a breathalyzer (blood alcohol content) test. If the police do not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level or if the suspect refused the breathalyzer test, the State cannot prove DUAC and would have to charge with DUI. Another critical element eliminated with DUAC is having to show bad driving. In DUI cases, there is usually bad or dangerous driving that alerts the attention of a police officer. There is the expected swerving, swaying inside lane, or even crossing lanes into oncoming traffic that will convict someone charged with DUI even without a BAC reading. In cases where there is no BAC result, the State can still prosecute by showing the accused was “materially and appreciably” impaired. With DUAC, only the BAC level reading matters.
How we defend DUAC cases
Because the first two elements (operating a vehicle in the county where charged) are often obvious, the critical third part of the DUAC law is the challenge for criminal defense lawyers. So how can you win a DUAC case if you have a BAC level of 0.08 or more? There are several defenses that can be used. First, we make sure the police complied with the video requirements of SC DUI law. If this important statute (Section 56-5-2953) is not followed, the remedy is dismissal of the case. Secondly, we can challenge the so-called “breath test” technology to show it is not reliable and should be questioned by the jury. In close BAC level cases (0.08 – 0.10), our lawyers will scrutinize the “margin of error” that is inherent in every machine. The DataMaster is no different from any other machine. Just because police and prosecutors like to use the term “instrument” does not make this machine any more reliable. In high BAC level cases (0.20 or greater), the cases will turn on how a person looks on video. Is their speech slurred? Are they unsteady on their feet? Do they sway or fall down? If not, the jury may disregard the BAC reading and decide guilt on how the suspect appears on camera.
South Carolina DUAC Lawyers
The criminal defense attorneys at Robert J. Reeves P.C. stand ready to defend you if charged with DUAC or DUI in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Tega Cay, or Lake Wylie. We are based here in York County and have our main office in Baxter Village Fort Mill. We have helped many clients facing the same fears and concerns you have. Try not to worry. We know what you are feeling and pledge to give your case our best efforts. Our lawyers will review all aspects of the State’s evidence and then sit down with you to review options. We will answer your questions and then make recommendations. After you have what you need, you can then make the best decision for your particular situation. Every case is different. You will know what to do to protect yourself, your job, and your family. We will be there beside you every step of the way. Call us today and let’s see what can be done. You can reach Mr. Reeves directly on his mobile phone at 803.554.4157 or email email@example.com.