State Laws

South Carolina DUI Laws


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 intoxicated.

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 South Carolina.

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.

See also:
South Carolina Felony
South Carolina Divorce
South Carolina Bankruptcy Laws
South Carolina Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
South Carolina Expungement External link (opens in new window)