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South Carolina DUI Laws & Penalties

South Carolina DUI law section 56-5-2930 states that it is against the law for any person to drive a motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who has been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence to display the signs one would typically associate with someone who is under the influence.  Just the fact that a chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI in South Carolina.

It should also be noted that a person could still be arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina even if their blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit of .08% just by displaying signs that are consistent with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When an officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI in South Carolina, the officer is already starting to build a case against that person by observing their driving patterns prior to initiating the DUI stop.  If the officer has established reasonable grounds and suspects that someone is under the influence, the officer is going to request that the individual perform some field sobriety test (it is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests. If an officer asks you to take the field sobriety test, just kindly refuse his request).

The officer is then going to request that you submit to a chemical test.  Submitting to a chemical test is required by the South Carolina Implied consent law section 56-5-2950.  If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, the officer must inform the driver of the penalties for test refusal and then ask the driver a second time if he or she will submit to a chemical test.  Refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in a minimum 6-month license suspension.

Upon being arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue you a "Notice of Suspension" that advises you of your right to an administrative hearing and to obtain a temporary alcohol license.

 Within 30 days from the date of the arrest, you must obtain a temporary alcohol license from the DMV that will enable you to drive unrestricted pending the outcome of your administrative hearing regarding the suspension of your license.

If you fail to request an administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest, the suspension of your license will be upheld and you will not be able to request an administrative hearing after this time.  It should be noted that the administrative hearing process can be tricky and it really requires the skills of a South Carolina DUI lawyer who has experience when it comes to representing clients at an administrative hearing to have a successful outcome to the hearing.

South Carolina First Offense DUI

A South Carolina first offense DUI conviction carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A first offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 48-hours up to a maximum of 30 days.  In lieu of the minimum jail sentence the court may allow you to serve 48-hours of community service instead.

A first offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 72-hours up to a maximum of 30 days.  In lieu of the minimum jail sentence the court may allow you to serve 72-hours of community service instead.

A first offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum jail sentence of 30 days up to a maximum of 90 days.  In lieu of the minimum jail sentence the court may allow you to serve 30 days of community service instead.

Fines:  A first offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a fine of up to $400 plus court costs.  A first offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a fine of up to $500 plus court costs.  A first offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a fine of up to $1,000 plus court costs.

ADSAP:  You will be required to attend a state approved ADSAP program.

License Suspension:  A first offense will result in your license being suspended by the DMV for a period of 6 months.  First time offenders will be eligible for a provisional driver's license if they meet the requirements for one.

Before the South Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period or issue you a provisional license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a South Carolina SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a $100 license reinstatement fee to the DMV.

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South Carolina Second Offense DUI

A South Carolina second offense DUI conviction carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 5 days up to a maximum of 1-year.  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 30 days up to a maximum of 2-years.  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum jail sentence of 90 days up to a maximum of 3-years.

Fines:  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum fine of $2,100 up to a maximum fine of $5,100 plus court costs.  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum fine of $2,500 up to a maximum fine of $5,500 plus court costs.  A second offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum fine of $3,500 up to a maximum fine of $6,500 plus court costs.

ADSAP:  You will be required to attend a state approved ADSAP program.

License Suspension:  A second offense will result in your license being suspended by the DMV for a period of 1-year.  Second time offenders will not be eligible for a provisional license during their suspension period.

Before the South Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a South Carolina SR22 policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

You will also have to pay a $100 license reinstatement fee to the DMV. The DMV will also require a second time offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle as a requirement for license reinstatement.

South Carolina Third Offense DUI

A South Carolina third offense DUI conviction is a Felony offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 60 days up to a maximum of 3-years.  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 90 days up to a maximum of 4-years.  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum jail sentence of 6 months up to a maximum of 5-years.

Fines:  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum fine of $3,800 up to a maximum fine of $6,300 plus court costs.  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum fine of $5,000 up to a maximum fine of $7,500 plus court costs.  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum fine of $7,500 up to a maximum fine of $10,000 plus court costs.

ADSAP:  You will be required to attend a state approved ADSAP program.

License Suspension:  A third offense will result in your license being suspended by the DMV for a period of 2-years.  Third time offenders will not be eligible for a provisional license during their suspension period.

Before the South Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a South Carolina SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

You will also have to pay a $100 license reinstatement fee to the DMV. The DMV will also require a third time offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle as a requirement for license reinstatement.

South Carolina Fourth or Subsequent Offense DUI

A South Carolina fourth or subsequent offense DUI conviction is a Felony offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A fourth or subsequent offense conviction with a BAC of .08% - .10% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 1-year up to a maximum of 5-years.  A fourth or subsequent offense conviction with a BAC of .10% - .16% will result in a minimum jail sentence of 2-years up to a maximum of 6-years.  A third offense conviction with a BAC of .16% or greater will result in a minimum jail sentence of 3-years up to a maximum of 7-years.

Fines:  The fine amount for a fourth or subsequent offense conviction shall be set by the court.

ADSAP:  You will be required to attend a state approved ADSAP program.

License Revocation:  A fourth offense will result in your license being revoked by the DMV.  Fourth or subsequent time offenders will not be eligible for a provisional license during their suspension period.

Before the South Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

You will also have to pay a $100 license reinstatement fee to the DMV. The DMV will also require a fourth or subsequent time offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle as a requirement for license reinstatement.

South Carolina CDL DUI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DUI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.  A second CDL DUI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation while carrying hazardous materials will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

South Carolina DUI Under 21 Years of Age

Anyone under the age of 21 who is stopped and found to have consumed alcohol or drugs and has a BAC level of .02% or higher will be arrested for violating South Carolina's "zero tolerance" law regarding under age drinking and driving.  The penalties for violating the zero tolerance law will include the suspension or revocation of your license for a period of time to be determined by the DMV.

If you are under 21 and are arrested for having a BAC level of .08% or greater you will be facing the same fines and penalties as someone over 21 would face for the same offense.

You will also be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of an South Carolina SR-22 insurance policy before the DMV will reinstate your license or issue you a temporary driving permit.

South Carolina SR22 Requirements

Before the South Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license along with meeting the other requirements they have set forth. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your South Carolina SR22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the South Carolina DMV of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the SC DMV will immediately suspend your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of South Carolina and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in South Carolina for any less.Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other South Carolina DUI Resources

  • South Carolina First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • South Carolina SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about South Carolina SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • South Carolina ADSAP programs - We offer a complete listing of state approved DUI alcohol drug safety programs listed by County.

  • South Carolina Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of South Carolina bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.

  • South Carolina DUI Courts - Comprehensive list of SC's criminal courts listed by County.

  • Jails in South Carolina - Comprehensive list of SC's jails and contact information.