DUI Charges

What Is A DUI Charge?

There are two kinds of DUI charges. A “per se” DUI charge is based on the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system. In South Carolina, you can be charged with a DUI for driving when your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. However, it is possible to receive a DUI or alcohol-related violation even if your BAC is under the legal limit. In fact, the term “drunk driving” can be misleading because you do not have to be drunk or driving to be charged with a DUI. An Impairment DUI charge is based on whether the driver’s mental or physical abilities were impaired by the drugs or alcohol.

DUI Charges

South Carolina takes DUI (drinking under the influence of alcohol/drugs) and DWI (drinking while intoxicated) charges very seriously. The penalties vary, but a person convicted of a DUI offense may face the following consequences:

  • Suspended license
  • Heavy fines
  • Time in prison
  • Criminal record
  • Required to install a ignition interlock device to monitor driving
  • No longer able to operate a company vehicle
  • Termination of employment
  • Restricted from entering airports or federal buildings
  • Restricted from entering some foreign countries
  • Mandatory completion of extensive alcohol counseling

How Much Do You Have To Drink For A DUI In South Carolina?

In South Carolina, your BAC (blood alcohol content) need only be at the following to warrant a DUI charge:

Under 21 21 or older Commercial
.02% .08% .04%
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Refusing A Chemical Test

In South Carolina, the "Implied Consent" law states that if you drive in the state of South Carolina you agree to take a chemical test if a law enforcement officer asks you to. Refusing a chemical test could make a driver’s DUI charge much more serious.

Underage Drinking

According the CDC, teenagers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking. The most recent survey indicated that 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system.

The state of South Carolina has strict laws regarding anyone under 21 who drinks and drives. If you are under twenty-one, you only need a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent to be charged with an underage DUI and have your driver’s license automatically suspended.

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Administrative Penalties

A DUI/DWI offense receives two kinds of penalties: administrative and criminal. Administrative penalties concern the suspension of your license for a DUI and/or refusing a chemical test:

1st offense 1st offense with a BAC ≥ 0.15% 2nd offense 3rd offense
6 months Indefinite Indefinite Indefinite

Criminal Penalties

In addition to administrative penalties, there are also criminal penalties for DUI and/or refusing a chemical test:

1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th and subsequent offense
A fine of $400 and 48 hours-30 days in prison A fine of $2,100 to $5,100; 5 days-1 year in prison A fine of $3,800 to $6,300; 60 days-3 years in prison A fine determined by the court; 1-5 years in prison
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What Should I Do?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, don’t give up hope: with a strong defense team, it is possible to prevent your license from being suspended, minimize your fine, or even have the charge dropped. An experienced attorney will examine the particular details of your case to determine the best possible defense. It is critical that you get legal help as soon as possible following a DUI charge. For a free consultation, call Brian Smith and his team at 864-336-2690.