Summary of SC DUI Laws

Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, if you’ve gotten behind the wheel after drinking even a little too much, it’s too late to change what happens once you see lights flashing in your rearview mirror.

South Carolina lawmakers are increasingly committed to reducing DUIs. This means severe consequences — even first-time offenders face heavy fines, license suspension and jail time.

So if you’re like most, you’re probably wondering what could mean for your freedom, family, job, reputation and finances. These consequences can vary based on 3 factors, including:

  1. Whether you agreed to have your blood alcohol content (BAC) tested,

  2. Your actual BAC level, and

  3. Your number of prior DUI convictions – in any state, not just SC – during the 10-year “look-back” period leading up to the stop.

How Much Jail Time Can You Get for a DUI in SC?

Spending even a second behind bars may seem hard to grasp. However, for anyone convicted under its new, stricter DUI Laws, SC has made a strong statement by now universally requiring jail time.

The amount time served varies, depending on prior convictions and BAC.

  • A first offense can mean between 2 and 90 days

  • A second offense, between 5 days and 3 years

  • And a third offense can require between 60 days and 5 years

How Much Are Fines for a DUI in SC?

DUI fines in SC are greatest for those with the highest BACs and those racking up offenses within the 10 year look-back period. However, if you refuse to be tested, you automatically face a $400 fine.

A first offense can result in between $500 and a $1000 fine. A second offense will result in between $2,500 and $6,500 in penalties, and a third can cost up to $10,000, unless you retain a lawyer who can fight for a better outcome.

How Long Will I Lose My Driver’s License for a DUI in SC?

Not being able to drive in Charleston, or elsewhere in South Carolina, doesn’t feel like much of an option. Unfortunately, unless you successfully contest your conviction in an administrative hearing, you will lose your license for a minimum of 6 months.

By the time you face a third offense within the 10-year period, you could lose your license for up to 2 years. This assumes your DUI is not classified as a felony, that is, one that severely harmed another person. That would mean no driving privileges for 3 years. And after a fourth offense, your driving privileges will be terminated.

Once you’ve had a suspension, something as simple as not paying a traffic ticket becomes serious, resulting in indefinite suspension. If your license is suspended, you must also pay for SR-22, state-required proof of liability coverage.

Can I Get a Temporary or Restricted License for a DUI in SC?

Possibly. To get you through the time before your hearing, you can request temporary driving privileges. For $100 reinstatement and $200 administrative hearing fees, you may be granted a temporary alcohol restricted driver’s license within a week, allowing unlimited driving privileges anywhere within South Carolina.

If your hearing results in conviction, this license becomes invalid.

At that time, you might qualify for a restricted license if you’re employed or attending college more than a mile from home without viable public transit options. This will only allow you to drive directly to or from school or work, however.

To protect your long-term privileges, you need the help of a qualified attorney.

Your Next Step

You can’t afford to wait. You need an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney who can help you move ahead with your life and make the best decisions going forward.

Attorney Webb Charpia can help. Contact Webb for a free, no-obligation consultation today by calling (843) 261-7026 or completing this form.

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