Most drivers know that the maximum legal limit for alcohol in your system while operating a vehicle in South Carolina is .07% BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).  BAC measures the amount of alcohol present in a driver’s bloodstream to determine their level of intoxication. Put plainly, if you are driving with a BAC of .08% or greater, you would be presumed to be driving under the influence.  What many people don’t know is that even if you are pulled over and consent to a breathalyzer test (which you probably shouldn’t) and blow over the legal limit, you aren’t automatically guilty of DUI.

What Does a High BAC Mean in SC?

It may be unclear why someone who blows over the legal limit isn’t immediately guilty of DUI.  Certainly, driving with this much alcohol in your body is reason enough to be arrested for DUI, but isn’t enough for an outright conviction.  Because there are so many variables that account for a driver’s BAC levels, a high BAC can be contributed to factors other than alcohol consumption.  Here are just a few factors that affect a breathalyzer reading:

  • Weight, Gender, and Metabolic Rate – Women tend to have higher BAC readings than men, with all things being equal. Similarly, heavier people tend to have lower readings because BAC measurement takes into account the amount of alcohol as a percentage of your blood.  A stocky person with a larger frame will have more blood in their body, meaning more alcohol is needed to reach higher blood alcohol levels.  An individual’s metabolic rate determines how fast their body breaks down chemicals.  A higher metabolic rate means that alcohol breaks down more quickly, leading to a lower overall BAC.  Metabolic rate is determined by diet, fitness level, an individual’s emotional state, and hereditary factors, among others.
  • Drinking Habits – The speed that you consume drinks, the type of drinks consumed, and of course, the alcohol content of the drinks all contribute to and affect BAC readings.  BAC usually starts to drop soon after you stop partaking, but can continue to rise if drinks were consumed in quick succession.  If an individual has been nursing mixed drinks for the last few hours, their BAC will begin to drop as soon as they finish their last drink.  To contrast, if someone was to take two or three shots back to back, their BAC would continue to rise even after they took their last shot.  Stomach contents can absorb alcohol, meaning that drinking on an empty stomach will result in a higher BAC reading than it would just after a meal.
  • Medication – Many Americans are on some form of medication, but fewer know exactly how their meds affect them. Some prescriptions or over the counter drugs can alter a BAC reading, leading to inaccurate readings and problems for the prosecution.

Charleston DUI Defense Attorney

It is important to remember that a high BAC reading is not an automatic conviction.  If you are arrested for DUI, it is important to speak to an attorney who know the legal system and the ins and outs of DUI cases.  In many cases, an experienced DUI attorney can find flaws in the prosecution’s evidence and in some cases, use the factors listed above to acquit their clients in a case that seemed hopeless.  Deaton Law Firm explores every avenue to get the best results possible for our clients.  Find out how we can help you by scheduling a free consultation to discuss your options today.