Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About DUI Laws in South Carolina

DUI defense is a challenging practice and a complex area of law, and our primary practice area. At Drennan Law Firm, our attorneys handle hundreds of DUI cases each year in the Charleston area and beyond, and we tackle even the toughest challenges. Our team of lawyers will be your strongest advocates and tireless legal representatives when you retain our services to defend your DUI or DUAC case. We have extensive knowledge of DUI laws in South Carolina.

You undoubtedly have questions about your legal rights, the consequences that you face, the status of your license, your legal options and your future. While we cannot predict the future, our lawyers will have a very good idea of what resolution we can steer your case toward following your first consultation, which is free of charge.

Get Answers to All Of Your South Carolina DUI FAQs

You've been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. You understandably have many questions about the DUI laws and how they apply to your case.

Please contact us to request customized answers to your legal questions such as:

  • What is the difference between DUI and DWI? — The terms DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are used interchangeably by many people. South Carolina laws refer to the offense of drunk driving as DUI.
  • Will you go to jail if you are convicted of DUI? — Every case's outcome is determined by its facts, the prosecutor, the judge and other unique factors. A conviction may mean you could spend time in jail — or probation may be an option. A skilled defense attorney will work closely with you to develop a strong defense strategy aimed at keeping you out of jail if possible.
  • Will you lose your driver's license? If so, for how long? — Your driver's license may be suspended for one month, three months, six months or longer depending on factors such as (1) whether you are under or over age 21; (2) whether you agree or refuse to submit to chemical blood alcohol content tests (breath, urine or blood tests); (3) what level of blood alcohol content tests indicate if you are tested; (4) whether you have had previous DUI convictions and (5) whether you agree to enter the state's ignition interlock device program. A qualified lawyer on your side will fight to help you keep your driving privileges as the first order of business.
  • What is the court process for a DUI case? — A DUI case in South Carolina has two main processes: the administrative case with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will determine whether you can keep your driver's license, and the criminal case, which will determine whether you will end up with a conviction and a misdemeanor or felony record.
  • How much will a DUI cost you? — With court fees and legal fees, you can expect to spend several thousand dollars. Details will vary depending on how straightforward or complex the case becomes.
  • Will you be required to install an ignition interlock device? — You may be given the opportunity to choose to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for a period of time, as a condition of restoring your driving privileges.
  • What if you refused the breath test? — Assuming the traffic stop was justified, if you refused the breath test, you will likely get an automatic driver's license suspension to start with. If you are fortunate, your defense attorney may prove that a police officer stopped you without probable cause — and your case may be dismissed.
  • What if you blew over the legal limit? — The legal limit depends on whether you are under or over age 21. Drivers under age 21 may lose their driving privileges until age 21 if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured as .02 or higher. Drivers over age 21 may have licenses suspended, with the length of time depending on if the BAC is measured at .08-.09, .10-.15 or higher. Penalties are more severe when BAC is .16 or higher and may include permanent revocation of one's driver's license for repeat offenses. (Reinstatement may be an option after several years).
  • Will you be fired? Will you be able to get another job if convicted of DUI? — The answers to these questions vary greatly depending on the employer, the type of work, the severity of the charges and so on. Commercial driver's license holders (such as truckers) are likely to lose jobs that involve driving. Professionals such as physicians and nurses often have trouble renewing their professional licenses after a DUI conviction. If this is a concern, talk to your defense attorney as soon as possible about representing you before your professional accrediting association.
  • Is a DUI a felony? — An uncomplicated DUI is typically recorded as a misdemeanor, but if someone was injured or killed, or if a DUI conviction is for a third offense or worse, it may be considered a felony. An extra-high blood alcohol content may also lead to a felony conviction.
  • How long does a DUI conviction stay on your record? — Generally, a criminal record remains on the books until and unless it is expunged. However, DUIs are not eligible for expungement in South Carolina.
  • How long does a DUI stay on your driving record? — It stays for 10 years.
  • Does a DUI show up on a background check? It will show up for nearly any background check as a misdemeanor or felony; for more specifics, ask a lawyer.
  • Can a DUI be expunged? No.
  • How long after an accident can you get a DUI? — If a law enforcement officer did not cite you for DUI at the scene of an accident, you are unlikely to be charged unless:
    • You were injured and in the course of your evaluation and treatment, medical personnel determine your BAC was above the legal limit, or
    • Someone else (a pedestrian, passenger or motorist) was injured or killed, and it is subsequently determined that you had been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Visit our articles and blog sections for additional DUI-related resources and information.

Speak With A Straightforward, Dedicated DUI Defense Lawyer

Our attorneys are highly knowledgeable about DUI laws and the DataMaster DMT breath test machine, which is used to measure blood alcohol content (BAC) at the police station. It is the only breath test result that is admissible in court, but we know its flaws and inaccuracies. We know how to defend your case, seek to keep your license, minimize the consequences, guard your driving privileges and protect your future.

Please call us at 843-352-4149 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.

Our firm can defend you against any DUI charge and on appeal of a driving under the influence conviction. Contact us to gain a full understanding of your legal options from one of our dedicated lawyers.