South Carolina DUI Laws

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South Carolina DUI laws state that any driver over the age of 21 cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and/or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Commercial drivers cannot exceed 0.04%, and underage drivers cannot exceed 0.02%.
More than 10,000 people are killed on the road every year due to drunk driving crashes in the U.S.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous crime, and penalties will vary by state. Even for a first-time offense, drivers will shell out up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees—and it will definitely affect your car insurance rates as well.
That’s why the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about DUI laws in South Carolina.
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What is a DUI?

A DUI refers to driving under the influence while a DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired.
Each state determines the difference between these two charges, but South Carolina uses the term "DUI" in its state laws.
A DUI charge could mean that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if the drugs weren’t illegal—you can get a DUI charge from prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs if they make you impaired.
In some states, the charges are OUI (operating under the influence) or OWI (operating while intoxicated).

DUI in South Carolina

It is illegal to operate a vehicle in South Carolina if you are "under the influence" of drugs, alcohol, or intoxicants. In this case, being "under the influence" means that you are incapable of operating a vehicle safely.
It is also illegal to operate a vehicle if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you’re a commercial driver
  • 0.02% or higher if you’re under 21
South Carolina, like every state, has an implied consent law, which stipulates that drivers consent to be tested if they are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for a DUI, you must submit to a breath, blood, or urine test.
If you refuse testing, the DMV will revoke your license for at least six months.

Penalties for DUI in South Carolina

If you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, you will be required to complete a drug and alcohol safety program.
Additional penalties include jail time, fines, and license suspension.
South Carolina DUI penalties differ based on your BAC level and the number of prior offenses on your record. If your BAC level exceeds 0.16%, you will receive harsher punishment.
Convictions in South Carolina remain on your driving record for 10 years.

First offense

PenaltyDescription
Fine$400 to $1,000
Jail2 to 90 days
License suspension6 months
Community service48 hours to 30 days (in lieu of jail time)
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
Some drivers may qualify for a provisional license that allows them to drive as long as they undergo mandatory treatment.

Second offense

PenaltyDescription
Fine$2,100 to $6,500
Jail5 days to 3 years
License suspension1 year
Community serviceNo
Vehicle impoundmentSometimes
Ignition interlock device (IID)2 years
SR-22 requirementYes

Third offense

PenaltyDescription
Fine$3,800 to $10,000
Jail60 days to 5 years
License suspension2 to 4 years
Community serviceNo
Vehicle impoundmentSometimes
Ignition interlock device (IID)3 years
SR-22 requirementYes

Subsequent offenses

A fourth or subsequent DUI offense gets upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony.
PenaltyDescription
FineUp to $25,000
Jail1 to 7 years
License suspensionPermanent (may petition for reinstatement after 7 years)
Community serviceNo
Vehicle impoundmentSometimes
Ignition interlock device (IID)Permanent (if license is reinstated)
SR-22 requirementYes
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Does a DUI impact car insurance in South Carolina?

Yes. Insurance companies take DUI convictions very seriously, and you’ll be classified as a high-risk driver going forward. This means that your auto insurance rates will increase.
It can be hard to find affordable insurance with a DUI on your record, so you’ll probably need to look at a number of different providers in order to find the right policy.
Jerry can quickly compare rates from up to 50 top insurers so that you don’t have to spend time completing online forms and dealing with sales calls.
Additionally, your insurance company will need to submit an SR-22 filing on your behalf, in order to certify that you meet South Carolina’s insurance requirements.

Other effects of a DUI

Besides conviction penalties and higher insurance rates, DUIs can impact your life in other ways.
License revocation: After getting a DUI, you will have your license revoked for at least six months. This revocation period increases with each subsequent charge.
Ignition interlock device (IID): These devices stop you from starting your car if you have any alcohol on your breath. If you get a DUI, you might be required to install one on your vehicle once your license is returned to you.
Background checks: DUIs appear on background checks, which could hurt your job prospects in the future.

How to find cheap insurance after a DUI

Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. They even help cancel your old policy!
Why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better?
"I have a really bad record, so all of my previous insurance quotes were pretty high. I started using Jerry and the fantastic app saved me $130 a month on my insurance." —Jett A.
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