South Carolina drivers face stringent penalties regarding drunk driving. The laws are designed to crack down on people arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Anyone who may get behind the wheel of a vehicle after even just one drink should be aware of the new laws. It can sometimes take far less alcohol than a person may believe to register a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

New laws make penalties tougher

South Carolina passed legislation in 2012 that took effect in July 2013 to toughen the penalties for DUI convictions in the state. The new state DUI laws touch on multiple aspects of drunk driving arrests and consequences. Highlights of the laws include the following:

  • Judges must now impose at least the minimum sentence for all drivers convicted of a DUI.
  • Both fines and penalties have been increased for any offender.
  • Ignition interlock device requirements are strengthened for all offenders.
  • Community service is allowable in lieu of jail time only for first offenders.
  • People with multiple DUI convictions will serve some amount of required jail time.

Such changes can have a dramatic impact on people charged with driving under the influence and make fighting a DUI harder but more important than ever before to avoid a conviction or minimize consequences.

The penalties at a glance

People charged with a first DUI will face different consequences based upon the registered blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of their arrest. Drivers with a BAC between .08 and .09 percent must serve either 48 hours of community service or jail time from 48 hours up to 30 days. They will also be assessed a $400 fine.

For drivers with a BAC between .1 and .15 percent, the jail time would be between 72 hours and 30 days and the service hours for substitution increase to 72. The fine also increases to $500. Finally, drivers found to have a BAC of .16 percent or greater will be subject to jail time between 30 and 90 days or a total of 30 days of community service. They will also pay a $1,000 fine.

Drivers with two or more DUI convictions face even stricter penalties. It must be remembered that convictions from other states will now count in this arena, potentially increasing the number of people who will face multiple DUI penalties when convicted in South Carolina.

Legal help matters

The toughened laws make the need for experienced legal help when facing a DUI conviction even more important than before. If you have been arrested and cited for drunk driving, contacting an attorney as early in the process as possible is your best bet for ensuring a fair and proper DUI defense.