DUI Penalties in South Carolina: What Are They?

by | Jun 1, 2024 | DUI Lawyer

If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, it is critical to understand what is at stake in your case. Drunk driving charges carry serious penalties under South Carolina law—with heightened penalties applying to repeat offenders and those arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent or above. Various other factors can increase the penalties you are facing as well.

South Carolina’s DUI Penalties

While it is important to understand what is at stake in your case, doing so can be complicated. Generally speaking, the penalties that a judge (and the SCDMV) can impose in a South Carolina DUI case include:

  • Alcohol education
  • Community service
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Fines, assessments, and surcharges
  • Jail time
  • Probation

However, the specific penalties you are facing depend on your BAC, your arrest history (if any), and the circumstances surrounding your current arrest, among other factors. With this in mind, we’ll start by looking at the penalties for “standard” DUIs with a BAC below 0.10 percent or without a BAC reading. These penalties include:

  • First Offense – Up to $992 in fines, assessments, and surcharges; 48 hours to 30 days in jail; and up to a six-month driver’s license suspension
  • Second Offense (Within 10 Years) – Up to $10,775 in fines, assessments, and surcharges; five days to one year in jail; and up to a one-year driver’s license suspension
  • Third Offense (Within 10 Years) – Up to $13,235 in fines, assessments, and surcharges; 60 days to three years in jail; and up to a two-year driver’s license suspension
  • Fourth Offense (Within 10 Years) – One to five years of jail time and permanent revocation of your driver’s license

Again, these are the penalties for a “standard” DUI involving a BAC below 0.10 percent or no BAC reading. The penalties increase at BAC levels of 0.10 and 0.15 percent; and, if you are being accused of causing an accident while driving under the influence, you could be facing a felony DUI charge that carries far greater penalties. Depending on the facts of your case, the judge may decide to impose probation, community service, mandatory alcohol education, or other penalties as well.

Jail Time for a South Carolina DUI

For many of the people who contact us after a DUI arrest, one of their top concerns is (understandably) whether they will face jail time if they get convicted. As you learned above, jail time is a very real possibility for a South Carolina DUI—including a “standard” first-time offense. Depending on your BAC and the other factors discussed above, the potential jail sentences for a drunk driving conviction in South Carolina are:

  • First Offense – 48 hours to 90 days
  • Second Offense (Within 10 Years) – Five days to three years
  • Third Offense (Within 10 Years) – 60 days to five years
  • Fourth Offense (Within 10 Years) – One to seven years
  • Felony DUI – 30 days to 25 years (depending on the specific offense)

Other DUI Penalties You May Be Facing

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your drunk driving arrest, you might not only be facing a DUI charge. In many cases, drunk driving arrests can lead to additional charges—and additional penalties—as well. These may include:

  • Implied Consent Violation – If you refused to take a BAC test during your DUI stop, you may also be facing a charge for an implied consent violation. Implied consent violations carry a mandatory administrative driver’s license suspension regardless of whether you were driving under the influence.
  • Open Container Violation – If you had an open container in your vehicle, you could be facing a charge for an open container violation as well. These violations carry a fine of up to $100 and up to 30 days in jail.

Additional Consequences of a DUI Conviction in South Carolina

While the penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe, these are not the only consequences about which you need to be concerned. If you get convicted, your conviction will go on your permanent record—and this can negatively impact your life in a variety of ways for years to come. The additional consequences of a DUI conviction in South Carolina can include:

  • A substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums for several years
  • Additional costs for restoring your driver’s license or obtaining a restricted license
  • Education-related consequences (including disciplinary action or loss of scholarships)
  • Employment-related consequences (including consequences for military personnel)
  • Immigration-related consequences
  • Professional disciplinary action (including license suspension or revocation)
  • Challenges with anything that requires a background check (i.e., obtaining a loan or securing housing)

Minimizing the Consequences of a DUI Arrest

With these risks in mind, what can (and should) you do to minimize the consequences of your DUI arrest? As soon as possible, you should:

1. Request an Administrative Hearing (if Necessary)

If you refused to take a BAC test, you may need to promptly request an administrative hearing at the SCDMV to protect your driver’s license. If you don’t request a hearing in time, you will waive your right to challenge your administrative license suspension.

2. Make Plans to Attend Your Court Date

Right now, protecting yourself needs to be your top priority. Even though you may not legally be allowed to drive, you still need to attend your court date. You should start making plans now so you aren’t struggling to find a ride to the courthouse when the day arrives.

3. Talk to a Defense Lawyer About Your Case

While there are several ways to fight a DUI in South Carolina, asserting an effective defense requires experienced legal representation. To find out how you can fight your DUI charge, you should discuss your case with a defense lawyer right away.

Arrested for DUI in South Carolina? Discuss Your Case with a Rock Hill, SC Defense Lawyer for Free

Are you facing the consequences of a DUI arrest in South Carolina? If so, we can help, but it is important that you contact us promptly. To discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer in Rock Hill, SC for free, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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