DUI & DWI in South Carolina
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Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense, not only in South Carolina, but nationwide, as well.
South Carolina operates under the Implied Consent Law, which states that when you apply for a license, you consent to being administered a chemical test if you are stopped by a police officer who suspects you of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A blood test may be required without the issuance of a search warrant. If you are driving, the legal limit for blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08% in South Carolina (.02% for drivers under the age of 21); however, your ability to drive might be impaired even with a lower BAC.
The results of these tests, which can be in the form of breath tests, urine specimens, or blood tests, are admissible in court. This means that if you are suspected of drugs or alcohol, you will be tested and the results will be used in a court of law.
South Carolina allows DUI convictions to be tried before a jury, so you might want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in DUI cases. A first offense is considered a misdemeanor, but it will remain on your driving record forever and can be used against you in the future―think potential employers and your insurance company.
If you refuse to be tested, your license is automatically suspended for 90 days, or 180 days if this is your second or subsequent offense within the past 10 years.
South Carolina requires mandatory videotaping of the arrest and breath test as it is administered. The taping must begin when the officer activates the blue lights on his patrol car, and must end after the person is arrested for DUI.
During this time period, the officer must advise the driver of their Miranda rights and read the implied consent law. The videotape must show the breath test being given or refused.
A DUI conviction can be costly. The fine for a DUI can range from $400 to $6,300; your license will be suspended for six months; and your insurance rates will increase. So, aside from your fine, you'll also have to pay a license reinstatement fee and higher insurance rates.
You will be required to attend special counseling for alcohol abuse, your insurance company must provide the DMV with an SR-22 insurance certificate for three years. Expect your insurance premiums to double or triple when you request the SR-22 certificate.
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