Penalties For DUI In South Carolina

Penalties, Consequences, & Impact of a DUI

For every conviction for driving under the influence, there are mandatory penalties. That means that if you are found guilty, or if you plead guilty or no contest to your South Carolina DUI charge, you will be subject to the basic penalty structure below. It is important to realize that every case is different, and there may be good reasons why you would be a candidate for the minimum or maximum penalty. For this reason, it is important to consult with a local South Carolina DUI attorney who practices in the county where your case is pending. Under the South Carolina DUI penalty statutes, the penalties that you may receive vary depending on several factors. The most important factors are 1) your alcohol level (BAC); and 2) whether you have prior DUI convictions, and if so, how many.

What is the Penalty for a First Offense DUI in South Carolina?

Nobody is perfect. Someone can go decades without so much as a parking ticket and then find themselves facing a DUI. Good, upstanding people can fall victim to a moment of poor judgement. If you have been arrested for DUI for the first time, it's important to focus on your future. You can't do anything about what has already happened; no amount of self-pity, denial, or anger will change that. You can do something now to increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome from your DUI defense.


Contrary to what you may have heard, every DUI is a big deal; the state is not handing out free passes or do-overs for first-time offenders. While the criminal penalties for a first-time DUI are not as severe as those for second, third or subsequent offenses, the collateral consequences are vast. Having a DUI conviction on your record can make it difficult to find employment, get approval for loans or student aid, and damage your standing in the community. Depending on the licensing requirements for your profession, a DUI conviction can result in kissing the career you've worked for goodbye.


To minimize the damage of a first-time DUI charge and avoid the pitfalls of having a DUI conviction on your record it is crucial to have a tenacious defense. In Charleston and surrounding areas of South Carolina, that means leaning on the skill and knowledge of Drennan Law Firm. Call 843-352-4149 now for a free consultation.

South Carolina DUI Laws For First-Time Offenders

The laws that lay out what constitutes driving under the influence (DUI) are the same for a first time as they are for any other time. DUI in South Carolina is defined as driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more. DUI can be charged when a driver is under the influence of any drug or intoxicant, including alcohol. A driver is considered to be "under the influence" of a substance when their faculties to drive a vehicle are materially impaired. This means that even if a driver has a BAC below .08%, they can still be charged with DUI if they are unable to maintain control of their vehicle. For example, someone found driving the wrong way down a one-way street could be charged with DUI even with a BAC of .05%. Your friends or acquaintances who think they're fine as long as their keychain breathalyzer says they're less than .08 are wrong.


DUI cases go down two tracks and both of them are filled with potholes that can make your life more difficult. On the criminal track, you face jail time, fines, and the difficulties that come with having a criminal conviction on your record. On the administrative track, you face the loss of your driver's license or the hassle that comes with having to use an ignition interlock device to restore your driving privileges.

Fines, Penalties, And Jail Time For A DUI In SC

The criminal consequences for DUI in South Carolina are steep and first-time offenses are not an exception to that rule. There's nothing good to say about spending time in jail, emptying your bank account to pay fines, and bearing the burden of having a criminal conviction on your record.


In addition to the criminal penalties, you will suffer the suspension of your driver's license. Remember how difficult it was too get around as a teen before you had your license? Get ready for a trip back to the future as you try to put the pieces of your life back together without your car. If your driving privileges can be restored via provisional license, it's likely you will have to bear the indignity of blowing into an ignition interlock device to start your vehicle. That's not the type of conversation starter anybody is looking for at the office, school, or church.


The collateral consequences of a DUI conviction can be just as harmful as the criminal and administrative consequences. After a DUI conviction you'll be forced to settle for expensive auto insurance - if you can find insurance at all - and your conviction will follow you around on personal background checks. That can complicate everything from getting a job to having your rental applications approved.

What To Do After Receiving A DUI In South Carolina

We've covered all the terrible consequences of a DUI arrest and a DUI conviction. The best way to avoid those criminal, administrative, and collateral consequences is to have a strong defense led by a DUI defense lawyer who has the skills and knowledge necessary to take on tough DUI cases and win. At Drennan Law Firm we have taken on tough cases for first-time offenders, including those who have "failed" field sobriety tests, rely on their commercial driver's license (CDL) to make a living, and those facing felony-level DUI due to aggravating factors.


Once you are arrested for DUI your next move should be getting in touch with an attorney from our firm. DUI is not something you can talk your way out of no matter how pleasant of a person you are and how much the facts may be on your side. Your best bet is to save your talking for your attorney and let them begin building your defense. Remember, anything you tell the police is something they'll be happy to use against you.

Aggressive Defense For First-Time DUI Charges

We get it. You've never been in trouble with the law before and you're scared. Scared about what this means for your future, scared what it means for your family, and scared about the criminal consequences. The police and prosecutor would love nothing more than for you to feel intimidated and start towing their line. But don't forget: it's their job to prove you are guilty, not your job to plead guilty. We are ready to fight for your rights minimize your exposure to damage. Contact us now for a free consultation with a proven DUI defense attorney.

What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in South Carolina?

BAC < 0.10: If the driver's BAC was above 0.08 but below 0.10, the driver will be fined between $2100 and $5100 and sentenced to between 5 days and 1 year in jail.0.10 < BAC < 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.10 but below 0.16, the driver will be fined between $2500 and $5500 and sentenced to between 30 days and 2 years in jail. BAC > 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.16, the driver will be fined between $3500 and $6500 and sentenced to between 90 days and 3 years in jail.

What is the Penalty for a Third DUI in South Carolina?

BAC < 0.10: If the driver's BAC was above 0.08 but below 0.10, the driver will be fined between $3800 and $6300 and sentenced to between 60 days and 3 years in jail.0.10 < BAC < 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.10 but below 0.16, the driver will be fined between $5000 and $7500 and sentenced to between 90 days and 4 years in jail. BAC > 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.16, the driver will be fined between $7500 and $10,000 and sentenced to between 6 months and 5 years in jail.

What is the Penalty for a Fourth DUI or Greater in South Carolina?

BAC < 0.10: If the driver's BAC was above 0.08 but below 0.10, the driver will be sentenced to between 1 and 5 years in jail.0.10 < BAC < 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.10 but below 0.16, the driver will be sentenced to between 2 and 6 years in jail. BAC > 0.16: If the driver's BAC was above 0.16, the driver will be sentenced to between 3 and 7 years in jail.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Imagine driving home on a Friday night. After work, you had stopped in to your favorite watering hole to unwind with some of your friends and kick off the weekend. On your way to your house in Mt. Pleasant, you pass a police officer going the opposite way. The next thing you know, the officer has done a U-turn and is following you. Maybe you have had a couple of beers or some tequila shots. No matter what you have had to drink, it might be enough to trigger a field sobriety test or a Breathalyzer. If you fail, you could be facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.


As you probably know, a DUI conviction can cause you some serious legal troubles. You might have to pay the court thousands of dollars in fees and fines, you could have to spend some time in jail and there could be seemingly endless months of probation. There are also other DUI conviction consequences that can negatively affect your life.

Insurance Rates Go Up

After a driver is convicted of driving under the influence, he or she could see auto insurance premiums rise by anywhere from five to 100 percent. This can depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the DUI. For example, if law enforcement pulls over a driver for a minor traffic violation that results in a DUI, the insurance premium may not go up as much as it would have if the driver had been in a collision as a result of drinking and driving.

You Could Lose Your License

In most cases, the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend the license of an individual immediately upon a DUI arrest. In other words, before you even go to trial, you could lose your license. However, you might be eligible to apply for and receive a provisional license so that you can drive to and from work. If you do receive a temporary license, you might have to have an interlock device installed on your car. With this device, you will have to pass a Breathalyzer test every time you try to start your vehicle. In addition, you will have to pay for the device and have monthly maintenance performed so that it is correctly calibrated.

You Might Lose Your Job

A drunk driving conviction in South Carolina results in not only short-term penalties, like fines and possibly jail time, but also long-term consequences in the way of compromised career opportunities.


A South Carolina DUI charge can have an immediate effect on forms of employment that involve driving. And a drunk driving conviction might show up on a criminal background check for years to come during employment screenings.


A DUI charge alone might be enough to cost you your job. For instance, if you continually miss work because of court appearances or other issues related to your arrest, your employer may become frustrated with your absences and let you go. Or, your employer might have a policy against employing individuals with criminal records. If you drive professionally, a DUI charge that causes you to lose your license can also cost you your job.


If you have been on the receiving end of a DUI charge, keep in mind that you still have rights and options. With a strong defense, you might be able to fight back against the charges and avoid a criminal conviction.

Criminal Charges are Possible

You might face criminal charges for driving drunk. If the accident resulted in an injury or death, you might be facing other charges based on those facts. These charges are very serious. Think about how you would feel having to face a manslaughter charge because someone died in the crash. These supplemental charges can mean that you are facing serious time in prison or considerable fines. You need to think carefully about how you are going to answer these charges if you are facing them.

Civil Lawsuits Might Occur

Civil lawsuits are possible if the victims opt to pursue claims for compensation. This is possible regardless of what happens in a criminal court regarding your case. These civil charges could mean that you are out of even more money if the claim against you is successful.


You need to think carefully about everything related to the crash before you make any decisions. Everything from the statements you make at the scene to what you decide regarding your cases can have an impact on the rest of your life. Make sure that you take the time to think carefully about what you are going to do.

Can You Lose Your Job After a DUI?

A DUI has many connotations, but the primary issue that employers see is that you are a risk. No employer wants to be held liable for a worker's negligence or poor behaviors, so they're less likely to want to take you on as an employee if you have a checkered past.


What about if you are already working for someone, though? Will you lose your job because of a mistake when you weren't working? It's possible, and there are a few reasons why.

Losing your job due to a DUI

The first reason you might lose your job is if you are required to drive for work. If you are a commercial driver or deliver goods, then you need a license to complete your job. If you have a suspended or revoked license, you can't perform your duties and will likely be dismissed.


Even if you can get your license back, the cost of insuring you as a driver may be too high for some employers. The fact that you cost more than someone without a DUI could be enough to lead to your dismissal.


Another issue with DUIs is the time you'll have to spend off the job. If you get arrested and are jailed because of hitting or hurting someone, you may not be able to go to work for a few weeks or months, depending on the circumstances. In that case, it shouldn't be a surprise that your employer may not keep your position open for your return.


Still, other jobs are affected as a result of ethical concerns. If you get a DUI and have a license in medicine, for instance, the Medical Board in your state may consider whether to allow you to keep practicing. It's a matter of ethical concerns to determine if you are safe to be around patients. You might have your license temporarily revoked or suspended completely, ending your career.


If you didn't have a job before, getting a job with a DUI will be hard as well. You may have no way to get a license, no way to get to work or have to rely on others. Employers may not want to take you on as an employee, because you're a risk.


The only way to avoid these hassles is to stop a conviction from occurring. Any time you're facing a DUI, a strong defense is advisable.

Impact of a Felony DUI Conviction

The effects of a drunk driving conviction are far reaching. When the conviction is a felony, the effects are even more pronounced. It is imperative for you to understand exactly how this situation might impact your life.


We know that you are already facing a very stressful situation. Trying to think about the way that these charges might affect you years down the road might be more than you can handle. Still, you should realize that these effects might have an impact on how you decide to handle your defense.


An important factor in felony DUI cases is that a conviction on these charges will brand you a felon for the rest of your life. In South Carolina, this means that you can't vote as long as you are on probation, on parole or serving time in prison or jail. It can also mean that you are unable to carry a firearm, receive certain financial or government assistance or hold certain job positions.


We understand that this information might spur you to action. We can help you learn about the defense strategies that you might utilize in your case. We work with you to understand the circumstances of the drunk driving charge so that we can help you find options that address the specific points of your case.


You have to take the driver's seat in your drunk driving defense. We look to you to make decisions when they come up so that you remain in control of the plans. We work on your behalf to protect your rights and find options that apply to your case.

Minimize Your Penalties - Get a Free Consult

Those charged with DUIs in South Carolina are often wise to consult an experienced DUI attorney, who knows that the arrest and evidence can often be called into question. Sometimes, this means a defense attorney can make a motion to have the charges dropped altogether. In other cases, a defense attorney should work with you to ensure the best possible outcome is reached in your DUI case. Contact our South Carolina DUI lawyers for a FREE case evaluation.