When it comes to DUI laws in South Carolina, many people think of them in the context of operating a motor vehicle such as a car, truck, or SUV. However, DUI laws can apply to a variety of vehicles, including golf carts.
South Carolina is known for its beautiful golf courses and golf cart-friendly communities. It's important to understand the rules and consequences of DUI while driving a golf cart. Likewise, if you've been charged, it's also important to review your potential legal options with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
What is the definition of DUI in South Carolina?
Before delving into golf cart-specific laws, it's crucial to understand the basic definition of DUI in South Carolina.
According to South Carolina law, a person is guilty of DUI if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances to the extent that they're impaired. For example, it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher.
South Carolina law broadly defines a "motor vehicle" as any self-propelled vehicle. This includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, and, yes, golf carts. Therefore, if you operate a golf cart while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you could potentially receive a DUI charge.
Golf carts and DUI in South Carolina
In South Carolina, the application of DUI laws to golf carts can depend on where you are driving. DUI laws apply if you are operating a golf cart on a public road or street. Public roads include those within gated communities, resort areas, or neighborhoods, even if they are privately maintained.
The legal BAC limit of 0.08% applies to golf cart operators. The penalties for a golf cart DUI in South Carolina are similar to those for a DUI while driving a car. They may include:
- A fine of up to $400 for a first offense; $2,100 to $5,100 for a second offense, and $3,800 to $6,300 for a third or subsequent offense.
- Imprisonment from 48 hours to 30 days for a first offense; five days to one year for a second offense; 60 days to three years for a third offense, and one to five years for a fourth or subsequent offense.
- License suspension of six months for the first offense; one year for a second offense, and two years for a third offense. A third or subsequent offense within five or 10 years of the first offense can result in a longer license suspension.
Additionally, South Carolina has a "zero tolerance" policy for underage drinkers. If you're under 21 and caught operating a golf cart with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system, you could be charged with DUI.
What to do if you're charged with a DUI while driving a golf cart
Facing a DUI charge is a serious matter, whether you were driving a traditional vehicle or a golf cart. Like with a regular DUI case, you have the right to defend yourself against a DUI charge. The first and most crucial step is to consult with an experienced South Carolina DUI defense attorney. Attorney Matt Bodman can assess the details of your case, explain your rights, and help build a strong legal defense. Potential defenses include:
- Challenging the accuracy of BAC tests.
- Questioning the legality of the traffic stop.
- Determining if the arresting officer followed the correct arrest procedures.
Attorney Bodman is a former prosecutor. He understands how the legal system works in South Carolina, and he can help you understand all your potential legal options. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.