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What are the penalties for a DUI in South Carolina?

A summary of the penalties* for a DUI in Charleston, South Carolina are as follows:
Anyone convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, whether it is a first offense or subsequent conviction, faces some amount of jail time. First offenders have a minimum sentence of 48 hours up to a maximum of 90 days in jail. The penalty for a second offense ranges from a minimum of five days to three years. Third and subsequent offenses carry jail terms ranging from 60 days to five years. As you can see, penalties for DUI in South Carolina are quite harsh – another reason it is highly recommended to consult with a DUI lawyer in Charleston as soon as possible.

In addition to jail time, those convicted of DUI face fines which increase in severity for multiple offenses. First-time offenders will pay a fine of $400 – $1000, while the maximum fine for third and subsequent offenses is $10,000. DUI convictions in South Carolina also come with the possibility of license suspension from 6 months to two years or a permanent forfeiture after the fourth offense. Your DUI lawyer in Charleston can help you to reduce these fines and jail times.

For a first offender who tests above the legal limit, but blows below a critical value of 0.15, you may be able to serve your time, pay your fine, and go about your life. However, those who are second offenders or those who blow 0.15 or higher on a breathalyzer will need to install a mandatory ignition interlock device for a period of no less than six months. This is a relatively recent addition to South Carolina DUI law, known as Emma’s Law, after Emma Longstreet, a six-year-old girl, was killed by a drunk driver.

Driving Under the Influence in Charleston, South Carolina

According to state law in South Carolina, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Impairment is defined as a state in which a driver’s faculties are appreciably and materially impaired. In terms of measurements, for adults over the age of 21 with a standard (non-commercial) driver’s license, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08. If you are tested and have a BAC at this level or higher, then it will be inferred that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol. For those who test at least 0.05, but less than 0.08, this result may be considered along with other evidence in order to infer that you were impaired.

Implied Consent in Charleston, SC

In the state of South Carolina, anyone operating a vehicle inside the state has legally given their implied consent for the testing of their breath, blood, or urine for drugs or alcohol. While you may refuse this testing, it will result in a six-month mandatory license suspension. If you have previously been convicted of DUI or a similar crime, this suspension may be extended to nine months.

Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration, or DUAC, in Charleston, SC

As mentioned, the legal limit for BAC in South Carolina is 0.08. Unlike a DUI, in which it must be inferred that a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by this alcohol content, a charge of DUAC requires no evidence of impairment. Simply possessing a BAC above the legal limit can result in a DUAC charge. This charge sometimes appears alongside a DUI charge or can be an alternative, depending upon the details of your case. Contact a DUI attorney in Charleston, SC for more information.

Zero Tolerance for DUI Under 21

For drivers in South Carolina who are under 21, the legal limit is a significantly reduced BAC of 0.02. Anyone who tests at this level or higher while under 21 will face an automatic three-month license suspension under the state’s zero tolerance laws. If a driver who is under the age of 21 refuses testing, the same six-month suspension applies. These suspension times may all be extended in the case of prior convictions.

Facing DUI or DUAC Charges in Charleston, SC? Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer Today

If you are facing DUI charges in Charleston, South Carolina, contact a DUI attorney to begin working on an aggressive defense. Even if you have tested above the legal limit on a breathalyzer, this is not a guarantee of guilt or a conviction. South Carolina’s DUI laws are complex, and a DUI lawyer can help you understand their implications for your case, your rights, your responsibilities, and your requirements to get your license back, obtain the lightest possible sentence, and get on with your life after making a serious – but common – mistake.

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