Last week, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser, Jr. pled guilty to DUI second offense and drag racing. These charges stemmed from a September of 2011 incident near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unser, 49, and member of the legendary Unser auto racing family, entered a guilty plea the day before he was scheduled to go to trial on “aggravated DUI”, drag racing and reckless driving charges. Unser was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended on satisfactory completion of one year of supervised probation.

In September, New Mexico state police spotted Unser’s Chevrolet Suburban racing with another car around 3:00 a.m. Authorities reported that both vehicles were driving in excess of 100 miles per hour (60 mile per hour speed limit). Police were able to stop Unser’s vehicle, while the other driver got away. Authorities stated that Unser smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, and his blood alcohol content was twice the New Mexico legal limit of .08. Unser’s first DUI was in 2007.

Drivers in Easley, Mauldin and Simpsonville, South Carolina might wonder how Unser’s facts and case would be handled in South Carolina:

  1. DUI second offense or drunk driving second offense in South Carolina carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and a $6,500 fine, with a minimum of 90 days in jail and a $3,500 fine. Probation of up to five years and community service are also available and likely.
  2. As in New Mexico, a South Carolina driver charged with drunk driving could also separately be charged with “racing.”
  3. It is rare in South Carolina for a driver to be charged with DUI/drunk driving and also be charged with “reckless driving.”
  4. In South Carolina, there is no “legal limit”. A breathalyzer reading of .08 or above can be used as a piece of evidence in a DUI/drunk driving case, but the presumption that the defendant is not guilty of DUI remains throughout the trial.