‘Day-after DUI’ charges may affect many South Carolina drivers

People who metabolize alcohol slowly may end up facing charges of driving under the influence the morning after drinking.

Most people in Irmo appreciate the potential legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result, they may take various precautions to avoid driving after they have been drinking. Unfortunately, these efforts may not always prevent DUI charges, as some drivers may still be legally intoxicated the day after drinking.

Lingering intoxication

Many people assume that a night of rest after drinking will give the body enough time to metabolize any remaining alcohol. However, this isn't always the case. Problematically, according to ABC News, many people may not even recognize that they are still intoxicated the day after drinking. Feelings of drowsiness or grogginess may prevent a person from accurately assessing his or her sobriety.

Unfortunately, people who drive while their bodies are processing alcohol from the day or night before can still face DUI charges. WXYZ News tells the story of one woman, whose DUI arrest involved the following circumstances:

  • The woman went out and had about six drinks over a two-hour period.
  • The woman rode home with a designated driver, slept for six hours and then got up to drive to work.
  • The woman was pulled over, and Breathalyzer testing indicated that her blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit.

According to experts, the woman's BAC would have reached a level of about .22 while she was drinking. Based on average rates of alcohol metabolization, the woman's BAC would only have dropped about .12 while she rested. Consequently, when the woman was pulled over, her BAC was measured at .10.

In an interview, the woman stated that she was shocked that her BAC was over the legal limit after a night of sleep. Unfortunately, many other people may similarly misunderstand the risks of driving the morning after drinking.

At-risk drivers

Almost any driver may be vulnerable to DUI charges the day after drinking. The amount of alcohol consumed, along with a person's ability to metabolize alcohol, can affect how long the body needs to eliminate the substance. However, next-day DUIs may especially be a risk for women and older drivers.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, men and women process alcohol distinctly due to differences in body chemistry. Women absorb more alcohol than men, resulting in a higher BAC. Women also need more time to metabolize alcohol. Together, these factors compound the risk of women receiving DUI charges long after they have stopped drinking.

Older adults may be vulnerable to these same issues, according to the National Institutes of Health. When drinking, older adults often reach higher BAC levels because they generally have less water in their blood to dilute out the alcohol. These adults also require more time to metabolize alcohol. Therefore, older adults who take reasonable precautions while drinking may still be vulnerable to DUI charges.

Potential consequences

Sadly, regardless of the surrounding circumstances, people who are convicted of DUI in South Carolina may face significant penalties. A first offense may result in a fine of $1,000, license suspension of six months and anywhere from 48 hours to 30 days of imprisonment or public service. People who are arrested with high BAC levels and people who have previously been convicted of DUI may face even steeper sanctions.

Considering these potential consequences, people facing DUI charges should consider protecting their rights by speaking with an attorney. An attorney may be able to offer advice on challenging the charges or reducing the long-term consequences of a conviction.