DUI charges in SC cover a broad range of offenses and penalties, from a potential fine and license suspension for driving under the influence first offense to as much as 25 years in prison for a felony DUI conviction. 

In this article, we will look at the basics of SC’s DUI offenses and penalties, including:

  • DUI charges in SC,
  • DUI penalties in SC, and
  • Felony DUI offenses in SC.  

DUI Charges in SC

What is DUI (driving under the influence) in SC? 

SC Code § 56-5-2930 says that to get a conviction for DUI the State must prove:

  1. That you were driving – which requires that the vehicle is in motion (this can be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence),
  2. While under the influence of alcohol or drugs – note that DUI does not require a specific BAC result, 
  3. To the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired. 

A conviction for the related offense of DUAC (driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration) under SC Code Section 56-5-2933 requires only proof that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08 or greater at the time of the offense. 

What’s the Legal Limit for DUI in SC? 

There is no legal limit for driving under the influence in SC – the State needs to prove that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired by your alcohol or drug use, not a specific BAC result.  

If you are charged with DUAC, however, the state needs to prove that your BAC was .08% or greater. 

SC’s Implied Consent Laws/ DUI Administrative Hearings

If you refuse the breath test, or if you take the DataMaster and the result is .15% or greater, your license is immediately suspended under SC’s implied consent laws. 

You or your attorney must immediately request an implied consent hearing (there is a strict time limit for the hearing request) to challenge the suspension. If you do not request the hearing or if you lose the hearing, you will need to complete the suspension period, enroll in ADSAP, and you may need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. 

Criminal DUI Penalties in SC

If you are convicted of DUI or DUAC in SC, the penalties will depend on the number of prior DUI convictions that you have within the last ten years, your BAC level at the time of the offense, and the mitigation that is presented on your behalf by your attorney (note that many DUI offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences, however). 

Charge of DUI or DUAC BAC Level Offense Classification

Penalty 

(does not include court costs and assessments)

Mandatory IID License Suspension
1st Offense < .10% misdemeanor

Fine = $400

OR

Jail = 48 hours to 30 days

None 6 months
1st Offense .10-.15% misdemeanor

Fine = $500

OR

Jail = 72 hours to 30 days

BAC .15% or more requires 6 successful months

Depends on BAC:

.10-.14% = 6 months

.15 % or more = indefinite suspension with IID

1st Offense >.15% misdemeanor

Fine = $1,000

OR

Jail = 30 to 90 days

6 successful months to get license back Indefinite suspension
2nd Offense <.10% misdemeanor

Fine = $2,100-$5,100

AND

Jail = 5 days to 1 year

2 years Indefinite suspension
2nd Offense .10-.15% misdemeanor

Fine = $2,500-$5,500 (can’t be suspended lower than $1,100)

AND

Jail = 30 days to 2 years

2 years Indefinite suspension
2nd Offense >.15% misdemeanor 

Fine = $3,500-$6,500 (can’t be suspended lower than $1,100)

AND

Jail = 90 days to 3 years

2 years Indefinite suspension
3rd Offense <.10% misdemeanor

Fine = $3,800-$6,300

AND

Jail = 60 days to 3 years

3 years  Indefinite suspension
3rd Offense .10-.15% misdemeanor

Fine = $5,000-$7,500

AND

Jail = 90 days to 4 years

3 years Indefinite suspension
3rd Offense >.15% misdemeanor

Fine = $7,500-$10,000

AND

Jail = 6 months to 5 years

3 years  – or If the 1st conviction occurs within 5 years then 4 years IID Indefinite suspension
4th or Subsequent Offense <.10% felony Jail = 1-5 years Life Indefinite suspension
4th or Subsequent Offense .10-.15% felony Jail = 2-6 years Life Indefinite suspension
4th or Subsequent Offense >.15% felony Jail = 3-7 years Life Indefinite suspension

Other Penalties for DUI Convictions in SC

In addition to jail, prison, and fines, many “collateral” consequences may result from a DUI or DUAC conviction in SC, including:

  • ADSAP (alcohol and drug safety action program), 
  • SR-22 insurance, 
  • License suspension, 
  • License revocation as a habitual traffic offender, 
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) requirements, 
  • Financial costs associated with the DMV, court costs, IID monitoring, ADSAP, SR-22, attorney fees, restitution, and fines, 
  • Job loss and difficulty finding meaningful employment with a DUI on your record, and
  • A permanent criminal record for DUI that cannot be expunged. 

What Types of DUI are Charged as Felonies in SC? 

DUI 1st, 2nd, and 3rd offenses are charged as misdemeanors in SC. 

DUIs that are charged as felonies include:

  • DUI 4th or subsequent offense, 
  • Felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury, and
  • Felony DUI resulting in death. 

A “felony DUI” is not the same as a DUI 4th or subsequent that is charged as a felony. Felony DUI in SC, defined in SC Code § 56-5-2945, requires proof that:

  1. You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of a traffic accident, 
  2. You were driving when the accident happened, 
  3. While driving under the influence, you committed negligence – “any act forbidden by law or neglect[ed] any duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle,” and
  4. Your negligence was the proximate cause of great bodily injury or death to another person. 

Penalties for Felony DUI in SC 

Felony DUI resulting in death carries a mandatory fine of $10,100 to $25,100 and mandatory imprisonment of 1-25 years. 

Felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury carries a mandatory fine of $5,100 to $10,100 and mandatory imprisonment of 30 days to 15 years. 

Questions About DUI Charges in SC?

Your Lexington, DUI defense lawyer will answer your questions, investigate your charges, and work to get your case dismissed, find a resolution that is acceptable, or win your case at trial. 

Call now at 803-356-2800 or send us a message online to speak with a Lexington DUI lawyer today.

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