South Carolina’s Underage DUI Laws and Penalties

The consequences of driving under the influence for drivers who are under 21 years old.

In South Carolina, all drivers—even those who are under the age of 21—can be convicted of a standard DUI for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Offenders who are convicted of a standard DUI generally face the same consequences regardless of age.

However, South Carolina also prohibits driving with a BAC of .02% or more if the driver is under the age of 21.

So, an underage motorist who's "under the influence" of drugs or alcohol—meaning, the motorist's faculties to drive are materially impaired—can be charged with an underage DUI or a standard DUI. Basically, the officer gets to choose what offense to cite the person with. But an underage motorist who's caught driving with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08% (and isn't impaired enough to meet the definition of "under the influence") can be cited for an underage DUI.

Underage DUI Penalties

An underage DUI conviction will not result in any court fines or jail time. However, there will be a plethora of expenses for the license penalties and required treatment.

After the driver submits to (or refuses) a chemical test, the officer will issue a suspension notice indicating that the driver's license is immediately suspended. A BAC of .02% or more will result in a three-month suspension but will increase to six months for a second offense. If testing was refused, the driver's license will be suspended for six months and one year, respectively, for a first and second offense.

Every person cited for an underage DUI must enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program requires the person to obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow all recommended treatment.

Legal Process

Unlike with a standard DUI—which is handled in a criminal court—an underage DUI is dealt with administratively through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In other words, the case does not involve a judge or trial and won't result in a criminal conviction. Any objection to the administrative action must be filed within 30 days. So, if you were stopped for an underage DUI in South Carolina, get in touch with a DUI lawyer right away.

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