South Carolina’s DUI Laws

On September 29, 2011, in Law Information, by admin


In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs. The drunk driving laws are complex and the fines are expensive, so if you’re arrested for DUI, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after arrest.

Blood Alcohol Content

The blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) is 0.08% and for DUI is 0.10%, and anyone arrested for DUAC or DUI faces the risk of losing their driving privileges in addition to paying fines and attending the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP).

Implied consent and License Suspension

By operating a motor vehicle in South Carolina, you consent to submit a sample of breath, urine, or blood to test for alcohol or drugs. You can refuse the test, but that triggers an automatic license suspension for six months. In the event you submit to the test, and it is determined that your BAC is 0.15% or higher, your driving privileges are automatically suspended for 1 month.

There is an opportunity to challenge a suspension, however, by filing for an Administrative Hearing within 30 days of the suspension date.

During the time your regular drivers license is suspended, there are a variety of alternative driving license options available depending on the individual and the circumstances surrounding the case. This is another important reason to contact a South Carolina DUI attorney immediately for representation, should you find yourself in this situation.

Videotaped observation period

South Carolina law requires the arresting officer to videotape a defendant’s conduct at both the DUI arrest and breath test sites. There are numerous requirements for these videos. For example, the incident site recording must begin no later than the activation of the officer’s blue lights and include any field sobriety tests as well as the person being advised of their Miranda rights. At the breath test site, South Carolina law mandates that the entire test procedure be recorded, including a 20-minute observation period.  Of further importance, any breath sample must be taken within two hours from the time of arrest.

Although there are special exceptions that allow officers to deviate from the videotape requirements, they are limited and specific. Therefore, an officer’s failure to comply with the videotape procedures may often result in a case dismissal.

DUI penalties

A first offense can result in a fine up to $1,000.00 and imprisonment for up to 90 days. A second offense can warrant a fine up to $6,500 and up to three years in jail.  A third offense penalty include a fine of up to $10,000.00 and up to five years in jail. A fourth or subsequent DUI is a felony and carries up to seven years in jail.

Repeat offenses and Interstate Driver’s License Compact

A second DUI in any 10-year period is a repeat offense. A fourth DUI conviction is a felony no matter when or where the other three convictions occurred. South Carolina reports convictions to other states through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, an agreement among 45 states to report convictions and actions taken against drunk drivers. Every state agrees to reciprocate, meaning that the action taken in one state against a driver will be taken in any other Compact state.

As with any other criminal defense matter, contacting a DUI lawyer as soon as possible ensures your rights are protected.

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