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DUI Penalties in South Carolina

South Carolina DUI fines and penalties vary according to the driver’s blood alcohol content. It is illegal for a person to drive with a BAC above .08%. A first offense for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol with a BAC between .08 and .10 is a misdemeanor. A first offense in South Carolina is defined as the first charge of a DUI. South Carolina’s look-back period, where a DUI is charged as a first offense if the offender has not had any other DUI offenses, is ten-years. If an offender has had no DUI offenses in a ten-year period and is charged with a DUI after ten years, it will be looked at as a first offense.  A second DUI charge within a ten-year period is also a misdemeanor offense. A third charge of a DUI is also a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is an offense where the term of imprisonment is not longer than a year. A person found guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol will have a blood alcohol level of above .08%.

If the person operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and is involved in an accident where the cause of death of the person is a close result of the accident with the drunk driver and within three years of the accident, the person operating the vehicle will be guilty of reckless homicide. Reckless homicide is a felony.

A person who operates a vehicle while under the influence and cause great bodily injury to another, will be charged with a felony. Great bodily injury is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious or permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

A person who drives a vehicle in a way that is a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property will be guilty of reckless driving. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime.

South Carolina DUI punishments increase in severity according to blood alcohol content. Any driver who refuses to take a breath tests will have their driver’s license automatically suspended.

South Carolina DUI punishments increase in severity according to blood alcohol content. Any driver who refuses to take a breath tests will have their driver’s license automatically suspended.

1st Offense: BAC between .08% under .10%:

-          Fine of $400

-          imprisonment between 48 hours and 30 days – OR 48 hours of public service

1st Offense: BAC between .10% and .15%:

-          Fine of $500

-          Imprisonment between 72 hours and 30 days OR 72 hours of community service

1st Offense: BAC above .16%:

-          Fine of at least $1,000

-          Imprisonment between 30 and 90 days Or 30 days of public service

2nd Offense: BAC between .08% and under .10%:

-          Fine between $2,100 and $5,100

-          Imprisonment between 5 days and one year

2nd Offense: BAC between .10% and .15%:

-          Fine between $2,100 and $5,100

-          Imprisonment between 30 days and 2 years

2nd Offense: BAC above 0.16%:

-          Fine between $3,500 and $6,500

-          Imprisonment between 90 days and 3 years

3rd Offense: BAC between .08% and under .10%:

-          Fine between $3,800 and $6,300

-          Imprisonment between 60 days and 3 years

3rd Offense: BAC between .10% and .15%:

-          Fine between $5,000 to $7,500

-          Imprisonment between 90 days to 4 years

3rd Offense: BAC above .16%

-          Fine between $7,500 to $10,000

-          Imprisonment between 6 months to 5 years

Anyone convicted of a DUI, for either a first offense or subsequent offenses, will have to attend an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program certified by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. The extent and nature of the alcohol and drug abuse program will be developed for each individual.

A person may also be charged with reckless homicide if they cause a death of another person while operating a vehicle recklessly or under the influence of an intoxicant. If a person is convicted of reckless homicide, they face up to 10 years in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. A person’s license will also be suspended for 5 years.


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