South Carolina DUI / DWI Lawyers

South Carolina DUI Laws, Fines and Penalties

South Carolina DUI law section 56-5-2930 states that it is against the law for any person to drive a motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who has been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence to display the signs one would typically associate with someone who is under the influence.  Just the fact that a chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI in South Carolina.

It should also be noted that a person could still be arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina even if their blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit of .08% just by displaying signs that are consistent with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What are the penalties for a DUI in South Carolina?

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense 4th Offense
Jail 48 hours to 90 days 5 days up to 3 years 60 days up to 5 years 1 to 7 years
Fines and Penalties $400 to $1,000 $2,100 to $6,500 $3,800 to $10,000 Up to $10,000
License Suspension 6 months 1 year 2 years Permanent
ID Required No Yes Yes --

First Offense DUI in South Carolina

South Carolina is working hard to reduce DUIs --  the fatality rate from alcohol-related accidents has dropped 40% in the past decade. Below we list the penalties for a first offense and the associated administrative penalties assessed by the state licensing bureau. Note that aggravating factors such as having a child in the car or having a BAC over .15, may affect penalties

  • First offense DUI carries mandatory administrative license suspension of six (6) months, unless otherwise successfully contested in an administrative hearing
  • First offense refusals to submit under implied consent laws carry a comparable mandatory license suspension of six (6) months
  • Reinstatement of license contingent upon completion of alcohol/substance abuse assessment and counseling in limited circumstances. Also, first offense convictions carry possibility of required installation of ignition interlock device upon reinstatement of driving privileges

Second Offense DUI in South Carolina

For a second DUI offense in South Carolina, you face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $2,100 up to $5,100 (for a BAC between .08 and .10%). The court may lower the fine to $1,100. There is an assessment fee of 100 percent of the DUI fine in South Carolina, plus a $100.00 surcharge, a possible $12.00 conviction fee and a $25.00 victim’s fine.
  • Minimum jail time of five days up to one year. Community service may be given to reduce jail time.
  • If the person’s BAC is greater than .10, then he is considered elgible for more serious penalties. BAC levels .10 to .15 carries a jail sentence of 30 days to two years and a fine of $2,500-$5,500, and .016 and above carries a jail sentence of minimum 90 days to three years and a fine of $3,500 to $6,300.

Third Offense DUI in South Carolina

A third DUI in 10 years (South Carolina's "look-back period") is considered a misdemeanor in South Carolina. The specific penalties differ depending on your blood alcohol content at the time of the arrest. However, even those with a low BAC may need the help of a lawyer to try to reduce the consequences associated with a third DUI.

  • If your blood alcohol content is .08 to .10, you can expect to go to jail for at least 60 days, though the maximum sentence goes up to 3 years. The fine for this offense ranges from $3,800 to $6,300.
  • A BAC of .10 to .16 carries more serious consequences, such as jail time that can range from 90 days to 4 years. The fine is anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500.
  • If your BAC measures above .16, you face a minimum jail time of 6 months, with a maximum of 5 years. In addition, the fine is anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000.
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