South Carolina holds strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for BAC in South Carolina is 0.08% for drivers over 21. For drivers under 21, the limit is lower, and for commercial drivers, it's typically 0.04%. Not only does a DUI in South Carolina lead to fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. It can have a long-term impact on your life and livelihood.
A DUI charge should always be taken seriously
A DUI conviction in South Carolina can carry serious legal consequences. These include:
- First offense: Up to a $400 fine (totaling $992 with extra charges) or 48 hours to 30 days in jail, plus a six-month driver's license suspension.
- Second offense: Fines range from $2,100 to $5,100 (totaling $10,744.50 with added costs), five days to one year in jail, and a one-year license suspension.
- Third offense: Fines between $3,800 and $6,300 (totaling $13,234.50 with additional fees), 60 days to three years in jail, and a two-year license suspension. If this occurs within five years of the first offense, the suspension extends to four years. For offenses within 10 years, vehicle confiscation applies if the offender owns it or lives with the owner.
- Fourth or subsequent offense: Imprisonment from one to five years and permanent driver's license revocation.
Does South Carolina require an ignition interlock device (IID) for DUI?
South Carolina law typically requires repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a high BAC to install an IID in their vehicle. This device prevents the car from starting if the driver's BAC exceeds a set limit. Here are the IID consequences for a DUI in South Carolina:
- First offense: Drivers with a BAC of 0.15% or higher must use an IID for six months after reinstatement of driving privileges.
- Second offense: For a second DUI offense, the IID must be installed for two years.
- Third Offense: For a third DUI, the IID requirement extends to three years.
- Fourth or subsequent offense: For a fourth or subsequent DUI offense, drivers must use an IID permanently. However, drivers may petition the court for the removal of the IID after using it for a period of five years without any violations.
- Refusal to take a BAC test: Under South Carolina's implied consent law, if you refuse to take a BAC test when pulled over, you may face a suspension of your driver's license and be required to use an IID for six months for a first offense, nine months for a second offense, and one year for a third or subsequent offense.
- Underage DUI: For drivers under 21, the IID requirements are generally the same for drivers over 21.
- IID violations: If you commit any violations while using the IID, the required period for using the device may be extended.
How can a DUI affect my employment?
In South Carolina, a DUI can jeopardize your job security due to the state's at-will employment policy. This allows termination for almost any reason, as long as it doesn't violate discrimination or labor laws. A DUI's impact varies based on your job type, industry, employer relations, and your employer's DUI policy.
Some employers may have policies against hiring individuals with a DUI record. Employers often consider DUI convictions a liability, especially for employees who operate a vehicle.
A DUI charge can also hinder career advancement, affect professional licenses, or result in job loss, especially if your role requires a clean driving record.
Finally, a DUI conviction may also limit your career, especially in licensed professions such as teaching, nursing, or law, where your license could be revoked. Employers might also require substance abuse treatment.
What are my legal options if I'm charged with DUI in South Carolina?
If you're facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, you're not out of options. Having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side is critical for fighting the charges and getting your life back on track. Attorney Matt Bodman can assess the details of your case and develop a strong defense strategy, including:
- Reviewing police reports and breathalyzer or blood test procedures.
- Challenging the legality of the traffic stop.
- Scrutinizing the accuracy of the breathalyzer test
- Investigating the conduct of law enforcement officers.
Attorney Bodman is also a former prosecutor with a deep understanding of South Carolina's criminal justice system. He'll fight to have your DUI charge dropped or reduced. To find out how he can help you, contact us online or call our Columbia, SC law office.