South Carolina Laws Relative to Impaired Driving

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol:
South Carolina law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the personís faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired. If you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it will be inferred that you were driving under the influence. If you have a BAC that is at least 0.05 percent but less than 0.08 percent, your BAC level may be considered along with other evidence to infer that you are under the influence. If you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, you face:

  •  A fine of up to $400 ($992 with assessments and surcharges) and/or imprisonment from 48 hours to 30 days and suspension of your driverís license for six months for a first offense.

  • A fine of $2,100 to $5,100 ($10,744.50 with assessments and surcharges) and imprisonment from five days to one year and suspension of your driverís license for one year for a second offense.

  • A fine of $3,800 to $6,300 ($13,234.50 with assessments and surcharges) and imprisonment from 60 days to three years and suspension of your driverís license for two years for a third offense. If the third offense occurs within five years of the first offense, your driverís license is suspended for four years. If the third or subsequent offense occurs within 10 years of the first offense, the vehicle used must be confiscated if the offender is the owner or a resident of the household of the owner.

  • Imprisonment from one to five years and permanent revocation of your driverís license for a fourth or subsequent offense.

(S.C. Code of Laws Sections 56-5-2930, 56-5-2940, 56-5-2950, 56-5-2990, 56-5-6240)

Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (illegal per se):
South Carolina law prohibits driving a motor vehicle with a BAC 0.08 percent or higher. If you are convicted of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, you face the same penalties as you would for a DUI conviction (see above).

(S.C. Code of Laws Sections 56-5-2933 and 56-5-2940)

Felony driving under the influence:
South Carolina law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the personís faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired. If you are convicted of causing great bodily injury or death while driving under the influence (felony DUI), you face:

  • A mandatory fine of $5,100 to $10,100 ($21,119.50 with assessments and surcharges) and imprisonment from 30 days to 15 years when great bodily injury occurs.

  • A mandatory fine of $10,100 to $25,100 ($52,244.50 with assessments and surcharges) and imprisonment from one to 25 years when death occurs.

(S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-5-2945)

Implied consent:
South Carolina law states that any person driving in this state is considered to have given consent for testing of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol and/or drugs in the personís system, if alleged to have committed a violation. If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, you face an automatic 90-day suspension (180 days if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension within the preceding ten years) of your driving privileges if you are 21 or older.

(S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-5-2950 and 56-5-2951)

Zero tolerance:
South Carolina law prohibits persons under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.02 percent. A person under 21 who drives with a BAC greater than 0.02 percent faces an automatic suspension of his driverís license for three months (six months if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension with the preceding five years). If a person under 21 refuses to consent to BAC testing, his driverís license will be automatically suspended for six months (one year if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension within the preceding five years).

(S.C. Code of Laws 56-1-286)

Open container (beer, wine):
South Carolina law prohibits having an open container of beer or wine in a moving vehicle of any kind, except in the trunk or luggage compartment. If you are convicted of violating this law, you face a fine of up to $100 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

(S.C. Code of Laws Section 61-4-110)

Open container (liquor):
South Carolina law prohibits having an open container of liquor in a moving vehicle of any kind, except in the luggage compartment. If you are convicted of violating this law, you face a fine of up to $100 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

(S.C. Code of Laws Section 61-6-4020)

South Carolinaís DUI and related laws are not reproduced in their entirety and the wording used is not identical. The above summaries are intended as a public information service and are not a substitute for consulting the South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976, as amended.