Drug-induced DUI in South Carolina: What’s considered impairment?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Drug Charges, Drunk Driving |

Just like in other U.S. states, South Carolina prohibits people from driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. In fact, the state even has a law on driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). A person violates said law by operating a vehicle with an alcohol content level of at least .08%.

However, alcohol isn’t the only substance that can impair a driver. Drugs, both legal and otherwise, can affect a person’s motor skills and decision-making ability, which can be bad for anyone behind the wheel. This is why South Carolina law enforcement can charge drivers with DUI if they’re impaired due to a drug.

Legal standards for impairment

While there’s a legal limit for alcohol in a driver’s system, there’s no similar threshold for drivers impaired by drugs. Under state law, it’s illegal for any driver to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any drug to the extent that their faculties are significantly and noticeably impaired.

The law also broadly refers to any drug or substance. Hence, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances with intoxicating effects are all fair game and can trigger a DUI as long as they impair a person’s ability to drive.

Determining drug impairment

Law enforcement officers are trained to detect signs of drug impairment, which may include:

  • Observable signs of drug use
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Altered mental state
  • Inability to perform standardized field sobriety tests

In addition to these, officers can also use blood tests to determine the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. But unlike testing for alcohol and it’s legal limit, any amount of substances in the person’s blood may seem suspicious.

The consequences of a drug-induced DUI

The penalties for a drug-related DUI conviction are the same as those for alcohol-induced offenses. A first offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $400 fine, and a six-month license revocation.

A driver convicted of drug DUI may not be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle as part of the sentence, but a court might still order them to attend an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

In conclusion, drug-induced DUIs may have different standards for impairment, but they lead to the same penalties for conviction. On top of the jail time, fines and license suspension, a conviction means having a criminal record that can impact your ability to secure loans or land a job. If you face charges, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to advise you on your case.


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