South Carolina minors can face higher standards for DUI than adults.
Let's get straight to the point about underage DUI: Yes, a minor can absolutely be arrested for and charged with DUI in South Carolina.
If a person under 21 is accused of driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, they face the same penalties as an adult charged with DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) - incarceration, hefty fines, and license suspension.
In some ways, minors are held to higher standards for DUI than adults. The state has a "zero tolerance" policy for people under age 21, which means minors can get in trouble for driving with just about any measurable BAC. While the legal limit for adults is 0.08 BAC, for minors in South Carolina, it's 0.02 BAC.
In South Carolina, you should never assume that being a minor will protect you from the full penalties of the law. A teen or young adult's freedom should be defended just like an adult's. Entering adulthood with a DUI and criminal record puts you at a significant disadvantage compared to your peers. That's why it is critical to have an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side.
South Carolina DUI penalties for minors
In South Carolina, there are added alcohol restrictions for people under age 21. In addition, special penalties exist for minors accused of DUI with alleged BACs of 0.02-0.079.
The penalties for a minor convicted of DUI over 0.02 BAC vary by alleged BAC.
- First offense DUI with a BAC under 0.08 - 3-month driver's license suspension.
- Second offense DUI with a BAC under 0.08 - 6-month driver's license suspension.
- First refusal of "implied consent," which means that you declined to take a breath or chemical BAC test - 6-month driver's license suspension. (By law, driving in South Carolina implies that you have consented to take a BAC breath, blood, or urine test when one is legally requested by law enforcement.)
- Second implied consent refusal within 5 years - 1-year driver's license suspension.
If the accused minor's BAC was allegedly 0.08 percent or higher, they face the same charges and penalties as an adult in their situation. Here's what could happen:
- BAC of 0.08-0.10 - 2-30 days incarceration, up to 6-month driver's license suspension, $400 fine.
- BAC 0.10-0.15 - 3-30 days incarceration, 6-month driver's license suspension, $500 fine.
- BAC 0.15 or higher - 30-90 days incarceration, automatic driver's license suspension, at least $1,000 fine.
Remember: If someone was injured during an alleged DUI, the penalties are more severe for the accused.
How a DUI defense attorney can help
A DUI conviction can have long-lasting, negative effects on your career, housing, and financial opportunities. If you are under 21 years old and have been charged with DUI, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.
A former assistant solicitor, attorney Matt Bodman has experience defending minors accused of DUI in Columbia and across South Carolina. With an office nearby the University of South Carolina campus, our law firm is experienced in handling the special circumstances of being an in-state or out-of-state student charged with drunk driving.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free case consultation. A member of our team is available to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.