ID-10097304

The “Legal Limit” in South Carolina

Posted On:  June 12, 2015

BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Results In South Carolina 101

  • A reading of .00 to .05 means this. South Carolina law establishes that any reading in this range creates a rebuttable presumption that the person was NOT under the influence.
  • A reading of .05 to .07 does not give rise to even an inference that the person was under the influence but may be considered along with any other evidence.
  • A reading of .08 or more creates an inference that the person was under the influence.

Mainly, there is no “legal limit.” What the law does establish is that if a person’s breath or blood is tested and the result is that there is .05 or less ethanol in his or her sample, he or she is conclusively presumed to not be under the influence of alcohol.

What’s the Difference Between Presumption & Inference?

A presumption under the law is controlling.

In this context, a presumption means that if the other party does not offer evidence to rebut, the jury must accept this aspect of the evidence to be proven.

Appellate courts concluded that a presumption shifted the burden of proof to the accused who was presumed innocent. This is unacceptable.

The effect of an evidentiary inference is this. An evidentiary inference means that a jury may accept that evidence or reject for any reason. The evidence merely “infers.” When presented in trial of an “inference,” an accused person need not do anything. He or she may then rest upon the constitutional presumption of innocence that all citizens own, and do nothing. The jury is free to  completely reject the evidence, in this context, a breath-alcohol reading.

Federal and State Criminal Defense Lawyer Stephen Harris has practiced almost exclusively Criminal Defense his entire career. Mr. Harris served as a Public Defender with the Charleston County Public Defender’s Office in Charleston, SC until 2008.
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