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  • DUI & DWI in South Carolina

    South Carolina DUI & DWI

    Drinking and driving is a serious and dangerous offense in South Carolina. You can face heavy fines, jail time, driver’s license suspensions, ignition interlock device requirements, alcohol and drug safety programs, and reinstatement fees.

    If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol, you will typically face criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    On this page you’ll find information about the definitions of a DUI, the common penalties, and the steps you may need to take to reinstate your driver’s license.

    South Carolina DUI Definitions

    In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive a vehicle if your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher.

    If you are younger than 21 years old, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .02% or higher.

    NOTE: Depending on the circumstances of your offense, you may receive a DUI or alcohol-related violation even if your BAC is under the legal limit.

    DWI & Impaired Driving Penalties in SC

    The penalties for a DUI/DWI in South Carolina will vary depending on the severity of your offense and the number of times you’ve committed a DUI in the past 10 years.

    Typically, you will face both criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties with the South Carolina DMV.

    The following are examples of the criminal penalties you may face in court:

    • For a 1st offense, you may face:
      • A fine of $400.
        AND/OR
      • 48 hours to 30 days of jail time or community service.
    • For a 2nd offense, you may face:
      • A fine of $2,100 to $5,100.
      • 5 days to 1 year in jail.
    • For a 3rd offense, you may face:
      • A fine of $3,800 to $6,300.
      • 60 days to 3 years in jail.

    Additionally, you will face administrative penalties with the SC DMV, which may include a driver's license suspension of:

    • 6 months for a 1st offense.
    • 1 year for a 2nd offense.
    • 2 years for a 3rd offense.

    NOTE: If you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI/DWI in South Carolina and you refuse to submit to a BAC/breathalyzer test, you will typically receive similar penalties to those above.

    Underage Drinking and Driving

    If you are younger than 21 years old, you can receive a DUI/DWI if you're caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher.

    In addition to criminal court penalties, you will face the following penalties with the South Carolina DMV:

    • A driver’s license suspension for 3 months, for your 1st offense.
    • A driver’s license suspension for 6 months, for your 2nd offense within 5 years.
    • A driver’s license suspension for 6 months, if you refuse to submit to a BAC chemical test.

    South Carolina Ignition Interlock

    An ignition interlock device, which attaches to your vehicle’s ignition system to test your BAC before you start the car, may be required if you are convicted of too many DUIs or your offense requires it.

    You will be required to pay for an ignition interlock device if you are convicted of a 2nd offense or subsequent offense for a DUI/DWI.

    For more information about ignition interlock device requirements, please visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.

    Reinstate Your South Carolina Driver’s License

    After satisfying the South Carolina court requirements and criminal penalties for a DUI/alcohol-related offense, you’ll need to reinstate your driver’s license with the South Carolina DMV once your suspension period is over.

    Your reinstatement requirements will vary depending on the nature of your DUI, but you may need to:

    • Pay a reinstatement fee.
    • Provide an SR-22 for proof of insurance.
    • Complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP).
    • Pass a knowledge test and driving skills test.

    For more information about some of the reinstatement requirements, please visit our Suspended License in South Carolina page.

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