South Carolina DUI laws allow for an individual to be taken into custody when his or her blood alcohol level registers at or greater than .08 percent. The state also maintains a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving. For people under the age of 21, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .02 percent.
There are many states in the nation that also enforce what is known as an aggravated DUI. In South Carolina, this infraction comes with an enhanced penalty and is enforced when a person’s BAC registers at .16 percent or greater.
South Carolina also has an implied consent statute that requires individuals to submit to a BAC test when the officer on the scene has reason to suspect that they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Should a person be unable to give a Breathalyzer reading for any reason or if the officer suspects the presence of substances other than alcohol in the person’s system, a blood test may also be administered. Within this state, these same laws apply even if you are not technically driving. Being seated in the car with the keys in the ignition is enough to warrant an arrest since you are technically considered to be in physical control of the vehicle; this is not the case in all states.
As in other states, it is illegal to drive in South Carolina while under the influence of substances such as marijuana or other intoxicants.
South Carolina DUI laws specifically do not allow drivers convicted of their first DUI to plead down to reckless driving involving alcohol, which is commonly known as a “wet reckless” conviction.
Felony South Carolina DUI Laws
In order to receive a felony DUI in South Carolina, a person must be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both while also breaking other laws such as court orders or acting negligently. A DUI can also be categorized as a felony if the person’s actions cause grave bodily injury or death to another individual such as a pedestrian, another driver or a passenger.
Other South Carolina DUI Laws
South Carolina has open container laws in place that forbid open containers of beer or wine in vehicles “located upon the public highways or highway rights of way.” The statue makes exceptions for vehicles parked at outdoor sporting events where law enforcement officers are conducting traffic control and for luggage compartments and trunks.
The state has a lookback period of 10 years. During this time period, the court will consider any prior DUIs a person has on his or her record when weighing sentencing options.
During police stops for suspected DUI, the officers’ administration of breath tests and any subsequent arrest must be captured on video. Footage must being when the officer turns on his or her blue lights and continue until after the person accused of DUI is taken into custody.
Recent Legislative Changes to South Carolina DUI Laws
South Carolina’s governor signed House Bill 3496 in April 2008. The bill altered the duration of the license suspension period for individuals who violate the state’s implied consent statute. It also increased the fee required to re-register a vehicle that has been immobilized and assigned financial responsibility for paying for breath tests to convicted individuals.