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. If 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. The video must be on 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.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In South Carolina?
South Carolina enforces severe penalties for alcohol-related driving offenses. One of the most critical elements of a driving under the influence (DUI) case is an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest. The BAC level typically dictates charges brought by the prosecution.
Under South Carolina law, designated charges include:
- Driving under the influence. This is the charge brought against a person who has a BAC equal to or greater than .08 percent – the designated legal alcohol limit in South Carolina.
- Underage DUI. People under the age of 21 are subject to a very strict alcohol limit – .02 percent. Law enforcement may file charges against an individual for having a mere trace of alcohol in his or her system.
- DUI for commercial motorists. People who drive buses, delivery vans and other commercial vehicles are subject to a BAC limit of .04 percent. Having a BAC at this level can result in DUI charges.
People convicted of driving under the influence typically face the prospect of jail time, significant fines, loss of driving privileges and mandatory participation in an alcohol education program. The most severe penalties are likely to be applied when a person has a high BAC, causes injury or drives with a child in a vehicle.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In South Carolina
In South Carolina, people convicted of DUI with a BAC of .15 or higher must install an ignition interlock device (IID). All repeat offenders are also required to get an IID.
The ignition interlock device requires a person to provide a passing breath test before a vehicle will start. Conditions of having a device include:
- Users may receive additional penalties with a failed test.
- Individuals tampering with a device also risk additional penalties.
- All IID expenses are the responsibility of the person convicted.
Having an ignition interlock device put on a vehicle can be costly. Most people, though, go to the expense to shorten a license suspension.
South Carolina DUI Penalties
In South Carolina, if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher and an officer pulls you over, you can be charged with a DUI. It does not matter if you exhibit any impairment; having a BAC over the legal limit is all that is required to charge someone. At the time that an individual is taken into custody for a DUI, an officer will confiscate his or her license. A notice of suspension will state that people have 30 days to request a hearing to request a temporary alcohol license. This will replace their regular license until the outcome of their case is determined.
South Carolina DUI Penalties are similar to those in other states, and sentencing often includes the suspensions of an individual’s license, fines, jail time and community service. Repeat offenders face increasingly punitive punishment, and South Carolina counts DUI convictions from out of state that occur within a 10 year period the same as an in-state conviction. Along with the number of times someone has been convicted of a DUI charge, a BAC will determine the severity of the South Carolina DUI penalties. Penalties increase when people have a BAC of .10 or greater and they increase again if their BAC meets or exceeds .16.
All convictions carry the requirement of completing an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. Additionally, for people to have their license reinstated, they will need to provide a South Carolina SR22 insurance policy form that shows that someone has minimum auto insurance coverage and pay a $100 fee to the DMV.
1st Conviction Penalties
Individuals who are convicted for the first time can face between 48-hours and 90-days in jail, although the court may allow someone to perform community service in lieu of serving time in jail. Fines for a first conviction are no greater than $1,000, and people will also be required to pay court costs. The license suspension will last for six months, but some may be eligible for a provisional license.
2nd Conviction Penalties
A second conviction carries with it a minimum jail sentence of 5 days and a maximum of 3 years, although community service may be an option. Along with court costs, people will pay between $2,100 and $6,500 in fines. People’s licenses will be suspended for one year, and they are not eligible for a provisional license during this time. Along with a fee and SR22 form, individuals are also required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle before the state will reinstate their license after the one-year suspension.
3rd Conviction Penalties
South Carolina considers the third charge a felony, and people may be sentenced to between 60-days and five-years in jail, and community service cannot be performed instead of serving time in jail. Fines of no greater than $10,000 and no less than $3,800 must be paid as well as court costs. License suspensions last for two years, and there is no option for a provisional license, and people must have an ignition interlock device installed in their automobile before their license will be reinstated.
4th Conviction Penalties
If someone is convicted of a DUI for the fourth time, their license will be permanently suspended and the court will determine the fines. People will spend at least one year in jail with a maximum sentence of seven years.