South Carolina DUI Laws and Penalties

The definition of “driving under the influence” and penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina.

South Carolina prohibits a motorist from driving:

A driver is considered “under the influence” of a substance if the driver’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially impaired.

DUI Penalties in South Carolina

When a person is convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, the judge will decide the appropriate jail time and fines but is required to stay within certain parameters. (Plea bargaining involves a slightly different process.) These parameters are established by law and relate to the number of prior DUI offenses (out-of-state convictions also count) the driver has within the past ten years.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

48 hours to 1 year

5 days to 3 years

60 days to 5 years

Fines

$400 to $1,000

$2,100 to $6,500

$3,800 to $10,000

Jail alternatives. For first-time offenses, the judge can permit community service in lieu of jail time. The amount of community service will equal the time that would have been spent in jail.

Treatment. South Carolina has a substance abuse treatment program called the “Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program” (ADSAP). Program attendees participate in an alcohol and drug evaluation from which a treatment recommendation is made. Completion and enrollment in ADSAP is mandatory for all DUI convictions.

Driver’s License Sanctions

First offense. For a first DUI, there’s a six-month license suspension. Drivers who are enrolled in ADSAP can generally obtain a temporary provisional license, which permits limited driving. For drivers who refused testing or had a BAC of .15% or greater, a provisional license isn’t available, but driving privileges are attainable through the Ignition Interlock Program.

Subsequent offenses. Drivers who are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI are required to enroll in the Ignition Interlock Program. The driver must install an IID on all owned vehicles. Any vehicle not equipped with an IID will be immobilized, meaning the license plate and registration must be surrendered. A second-offense DUI requires two years in the program. A third-offense DUI requires three years participation or four years if the driver had the three DUIs within five years.

.15% or more BAC. Drivers with a BAC of .15% or greater will face an additional one, two, and three-month suspension for a first, second, and third-offense DUI, respectively.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical or Breath Test in South Carolina

South Carolina’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a breath test. If found to have refused a lawfully-requested test, the court will suspend the driver’s license. The driver’s license will be suspended for six months for a first occurrence and nine months for a second offense (within a ten-year period). The driver may be eligible for the IID program.

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