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How Much Jail Time Can I Get for DUI in SC

If you or someone close to you has been charged with DUI in SC, then you know there are serious consequences associated with a conviction.

And with South Carolina working hard to lower fatalities associated with alcohol-related driving accidents, the State has enacted a number of new provisions to intensify existing DUI laws.

Now, if you’re charged with a DUI in Charleston, the State of South Carolina will consider DUIs from other states as previous convictions — provided they occurred within 10 years of the current offense. Additionally, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will now be used to determine the extent of DUI charges.

This scaled system is new to South Carolina and will carry higher fines, lengthier jail sentences and a mandatory completion of substance abuse counselling program with each conviction. Even first time offenders will face mandatory, minimum jail sentencing.

Here’s what you can expect:

Jail time for a first offense DUI

If you’re convicted of a DUI in SC, and it’s your first offense, your BAC will be the primary determining factor in your sentencing.

For levels between .08 and .10, there is a minimum sentence of 2 days and maximum of 30 days of jail time. For levels above .10 but below .16, the minimum is 3 days and maximum of 30. For anything above .16, the minimum is 30 days, but the maximum will not exceed 90 days.

Additionally, the results of this first conviction will influence the outcome of any future DUI convictions that occur within the next 10 years.

Jail time for a second offense DUI

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction, then it becomes your second offense. A second DUI is considered a misdemeanor, which means you face jail time of anywhere between 5 days and 1 year.

A person with a blood alcohol level of under .10 faces the minimum sentencing for this category. However, levels between .10 and .15 will result in a jail sentence of between 30 days and 2 years. Anything above .16 carries a minimum sentence of 90 days and maximum 3 years.

Jail time for a third offense DUI

If you’ve been convicted of a third DUI within a 10-year span, South Carolina considers this a misdemeanor.

The minimum jail time for a blood alcohol level of between .08 and .10 is 60 days, with a maximum sentence of up to 3 years. Levels between .10 and .16 carry sentences ranging from 90 days to up to 4 years. Anything above .16 means a minimum of 6 months and has a maximum of 5 years.

Jail time for a fourth offense DUI

A fourth offense in the 10-year “look back” period will require incarceration for at least 1 year and up to 7.

Summary of DUI Jail Time in SC

*BAC = Blood Alcohol Content


1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

4th Offense


48 hours to 90 days

5 days up to 3 years

60 days up to 5 years

1 to 7 years

Fines & Penalties

$400 to $1,000

$2,100 to $6,500

$3,800 to $10,000

Up to $10,000

License Suspension

6 months

1 year

2 years


Other penalties to consider

In addition to jail time, South Carolina’s DUI laws also determine what fines you will pay and how long your driver’s license will be suspended.


The fines associated with a DUI conviction depend on blood alcohol levels at the time of arrest, as well as your number of prior offenses.

For a first offense, fines range from $400 to 1,000. Fines increase drastically for a second offense and range between $2,100 and 6,500. For a third offense, fines can range from $3,800 to 10,000.

License suspension

According to South Carolina law, anyone convicted of a DUI in SC could lose their driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months — even permanently depending on the number of offenses.

A first DUI offense typically carries a mandatory license suspension of 6 months. A second offense will result in suspension for a minimum of 60 days and up to a maximum of 1 year. And a third DUI arrest in South Carolina automatically results in a minimum 2-year license suspension.

Should you speak with an attorney?

Whether or not you’ve had prior DUI arrests, driving under the influence in South Carolina can seriously impact your life. So if you or your loved one has been charged with a DUI in Charleston, you need to find a South Carolina attorney who understands SC DUI laws, has handled numerous DUI cases just like yours.

You need an attorney who can bring experience to your case and protect your rights. Remember: This isn’t something you have to do on your own. We’re here to help.

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