As in every other state, driving under the influence of
drugs and alcohol is a serious crime in South Carolina. Drivers who take to the
wheel while high or inebriated face dire legal consequence that can land them
behind bars and hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt to the state.
Before taking to the state’s highways and interstates, drivers
need to know how much that they can drink before they can be arrested for and
found guilty of DUI in South Carolina. They also need to be aware of what kinds
of sentences they can be looking at if they are convicted of this criminal and
DUI in South Carolina
The standard definition of driving under the influence or
DUI in South Carolina involves operating a motor vehicle of any kind with a
blood alcohol content or BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher. This standard or
per se definition applies to motorists who are 21 years old and older. It also
applies to the operation of privately owned vehicles including passenger cars
The definition also involves driving while under the
influence of any kind of intoxicant including alcohol, inhalants, prescription
medications, illicit or illegal street drugs and over-the-counter medications.
If the substance causes the right level of inebriation in a driver, it can also
result in the driver being pulled over and arrested for DUI.
The definition does not apply to the state’s underage drivers,
however. They are held to a lower BAC limit of 0.02 percent. This lower limit
extends to drivers who are 21 years old and younger. They also face different
legal penalties for DUI than adult drivers.
Commercial drivers who hold state-issued or out-of-state
CDLs also cannot drive while intoxicated. They can be arrested for this crime
if their BACs are 0.04 percent or higher. If convicted, they can lose their
CDLs for up to one year.
DUI Penalties in South Carolina
The penalties that drivers face in South Carolina reflect
the number of prior DUIs that they have on their driving records and the
driver’s blood alcohol content level. The higher the person’s BAC is, the more
severe penalties that he or she can face under the state’s drunk driving laws.
A first DUI offense in South Carolina receives penalties
like 48 hours to one year in jail and a fine ranging from $400 to $1000.
First-time offenders can have their jail sentences waived in lieu of community
service at the judge’s discretion.
A second DUI conviction leads to a fine of $2100 to $6500
and five days to three years in jail. A third conviction gets 60 days to five
years in jail and fines ranging from $3800 to $10,000.
All DUI must enroll in the state’s Alcohol and Drug Safety
Action Program. They must complete that program satisfactorily and obtain a
certificate of their alcohol and drug assessment before their cases are
DUI Drivers’ licenses Suspensions in South Carolina
DUI offenders in South Carolina can also have their drivers’
licenses suspended as part of their legal consequences. They also may have to
agree to use an ignition interlock device or IID on all of their cars at their
own expense when their licenses are reinstated.
A first-time DUI offender can have his or her license
suspended for up to six months. If he or she had a BAC of 0.15 percent or
higher at the time of the arrest, the offender cannot ask for a provisional
license during the suspension period.
A second DUI conviction leads to a suspension of one’s
license for up to two years. The offender likewise has to use an IID on his or
A third DUI conviction leads to a suspension of three years.
It can be increased to four years if the driver has had three prior DUI
convictions in the last five years. The driver also has to install and use an
DUI offenders with BACs of 0.15 percent or more receive
additional suspensions of their licenses. The extensions range from one to
three months depending on the number of previous DUIs on the drivers’ records.
Further, all vehicles that offenders own that are not equipped with IIDs are
immobilized by the state until the end of the offenders’ DUI cases.
South Carolina forbids drivers of all ages to drive under
the influence of drugs or alcohol. It implements strict punishments for drivers
who violate the DUI laws in the state.
The legal consequences include serving time in jail and
paying steep fines. Drivers also may have to use IIDs on their vehicles to
regain driving privileges.