South Carolina DUI Basics
The United States' federal government has set a limit for how much
alcohol an individual can legally consume. This blood alcohol content
amount is set at 0.08 percent. An individual can be convicted for
driving under the influence even if his or her blood alcohol level does
not reach this limit.
There are currently two ways of prosecuting an individual for drunken
driving. Individuals can be prosecuted under per se laws for having
blood alcohol content levels above the legal limit. These charges are
solely based on body chemistry and not on impairment. A prosecuting
attorney will provide the court with the individual's blood alcohol
content levels as evidence. When individuals have blood alcohol content
levels that strongly exceed the legal limit or are double the legal
limit, they can have more severe charges.
Individuals can also be charged with impairment. Under these charges a
prosecuting attorney will provide evidence to prove that an individual
was too impaired to drive. Evidence often includes driving patterns,
blood alcohol content levels, field sobriety testing, physical
appearance, and chemical testing. Impairment does not only mean the
impairment through alcohol but can also include impairment by drugs or
drugs and alcohol combined.
Charges can also be brought if an individual is impaired by
prescription drugs. An individual may have a blood alcohol content
level that exceeds the legal limit but may not be considered
Repeated offenders are those who have been convicted of driving under
the influence one or more times in a ten-year time period. Up to three
driving under the influence offenses is considered misdemeanor offenses
but a fourth offenses is considered a felony offense by the state of
Upon conviction, an individual will have his or her driver's license
suspended. A first offense will result in suspension for thirty days,
and a second offense will result in sixty days of suspension.
Suspension can also take place outside of drunken driving convictions.
When an individual acquires a driver's license he or she give implied
consent that he or she will submit to chemical testing when requested
by a police officer. If an individual refuses to submit to testing, his
or her driver's license will automatically be suspended, whether or not
he or she is later convicted of a driving under the influence offense.
During prosecution the court will assume the individual is guilty of
the offense if he or she has refused testing.
The number of prior offenses will dictate the severity of an
individual's sentence. A first offense will have a four hundred-dollar
fine and incarceration of forty-eight hours or more. A second offense
can have a two thousand-dollar fine that can reach up to five thousand
dollars. In most cases convictions will include public service. A third
offense can have a fine between thirty-eight hundred dollars and
sixty-three hundred dollars with a minimum of sixty days of
incarceration or a maximum of three years.
Since a fourth or subsequent driving under the influence offense is
considered a felony, convictions can include up to fifteen years
incarceration and up to ten thousand dollars in fines.