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Will South Carolina lower the legal blood-alcohol limit?

Many South Carolina drivers think they are perfectly fine to get behind the wheel after two or three drinks. In fact, a number of people say they hardly even feel the effects of alcohol at this point. However, if a person has a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, in the eyes of the law they are too intoxicated to drive safely.

The .08 BAC limit is frustrating for a number of South Carolina residents who believe that they maintain normal use of their mental and physical faculties after a couple of drinks. And, things could get even worse. The National Transportation Safety Board and university researchers have recommended that states should decrease the legally-acceptable BAC to .05 percent or even lower.

The NTSB recommended lowering the DUI limit to .05 percent in the spring, and now a University of California study has suggested that no amount of alcohol is safe for drivers.

Researchers reviewed motor vehicle crash data from more than 570,000 car accidents and found that even a minimal amount of alcohol can lead to crashes. The researchers wrote that "buzzed" drivers - even those with as low as .01 percent BAC - are 46 percent more likely to be found to be at fault for a car accident than a sober driver. For a little perspective, an adult male would obtain a "buzz" of .01 percent after consuming about half of a beer.

The researchers concluded that there should be no legally accepted BAC - only completely sober drivers should be allowed on the roads.

Whether South Carolina ends up lowering the legal limit as a result of these recommendations remains to be seen. For now, it continues to be very important for DUI defendants to seek legal counsel. Here in South Carolina, DUI charges can result in serious and long-term consequences. Defendants need to be aware of their rights and options.

Source: Reuters, "Buzzed drivers under legal limit still risk car accidents," Kathryn Doyle, Jan. 21, 2014

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