Under South Carolina’s Habitual Offender Law, 56-1-1020, a person who has been convicted of committing three described offenses within a three-year period is an habitual offender. Habitual offenders lose their driver’s license for at least two years. One the six offenses listed in the habitual offender statute is “operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquors, narcotics, or drugs”, otherwise known as DUI. Under the DUI statute, 56-5-2930, a driver is “under the influence” when the driver’s faculties are “materially and appreciably impaired”.
Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided that Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration, or DUAC, is implicitly part of the habitual offender statute even though DUAC is not listed. The DUAC statute, 56-5-2933, states that it is “unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his blood alcohol concentration is eight-hundredths of one percent or more”. A driver may be guilty of DUAC regardless of whether the driver’s faculties are “materially and appreciably impaired”. Obviously, DUAC is not the same as DUI. Nevertheless, South Carolina’s Supreme Court decided that a blood alcohol level of .08 is basically the same thing as being “under the influence” regardless of the level of impairment, and therefore DUAC counts toward whether a driver is considered an habitual offender.