South Carolina DUI Laws, Limits, and Penalties

A hand at the wheel, driving
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In South Carolina, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will implement administrative penalties after a DUI conviction. The SC court will implement criminal charges which differ from those of the DMV penalties.

To determine if you are driving above the state’s legal limit, a blood alcohol concentration test or BAC test is one option used by law enforcement.

SC DUI Laws & BAC Test

Getting stopped in SC for suspicion of driving under the influence will lead to the BAC test. The legal limit will vary among teens or minors, adults, and commercial drivers. The SC DUI laws and penalties will be the same for any driver. To determine if you are above the legal limit, SC DUI laws define that if:

  • Adults (21 years or older) with 0.08% or higher
  • Teens or minors (younger than 21 years) with 0.02% or higher
  • Commercial drivers with 0.04% or higher

Are intoxicated and should not be operating a motor vehicle. Refusing to take the BAC test will lead to an automatic suspension.

SC DUI Laws & Penalties

SC DUI laws include administrative and criminal penalties. Once you receive a conviction, you must fulfill the requirements before you can reinstate your SC license.

Administrative Penalties

Here are the administrative penalties you will face after from the SC DMV:

  • 1st offense: 6 months suspension
  • 1st offense: indefinite (with a BAC of 0.15% or higher)
  • 2nd offense: indefinite
  • 3rd offense: indefinite

If you refuse to take the BAC test, your SC license suspension goes on for:

  • 1st offense: 6 months
  • 2nd offense: indefinite
  • 3rd offense: indefinite

Criminal Penalties

The court will enforce the criminal penalties after a conviction. The penalties increase for repeat offenders. Here are the penalties you will face if:

  • 1st offense:
    • Fine $400
    • Minimum of 48 hours in jail
    • Maximum of up to 30 days in jail
    • 48 hours of community service
  • 2nd offense:
    • Fine $2,100 to $5,100
    • Minimum of 5 days in jail
    • Maximum of up to 1 year in jail
  • 3rd offense:
    • Fine $3,800 to $6,300
    • Minimum 60 days in jail
    • Maximum 3 years in jail
  • 4th offense:
    • Court determines fine
    • Minimum 1 year in jail
    • Maximum 5 years in jail

SC Ignition Interlock Device

Repeat DUI offenders, drivers with a restrictive license, or refusing to take the BAC test must install the ignition interlock device in the vehicle. Refusing to install the device will keep your license suspension for three years.

Every driver is responsible for the device installation cost, as well as the maintenance fees. The interlock device must remain in good working condition, or you must pay any fees for damage to property. The device gets an inspection every 60 days.

SC DUI Laws & License Reinstatement

After completing both administrative and criminal penalties, you can apply for reinstatement of your driving privileges. The process will depend on the DUI conviction. For approval, you must:

  • Pay the reinstatement fee
  • Provide proof of insurance
  • Complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Program
  • Pass the knowledge and driving test

With support, you may receive a provisional or unrestrictive SC license.