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 traffic offense.
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 and trucks.
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 resolved.
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 her vehicle.
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 IID.
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.