South Carolina Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third, DUI conviction in South Carolina.

South Carolina outlaws a person from driving under any of the following conditions:

South Carolina law defines "under the influence" as being impaired to an extent that the person's faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.

A driver who has a BAC of .08% or more can be convicted of a "per se DUI," regardless of his or her level of actual impairment. The volume of alcohol necessary to reach these BAC levels can differ depending on a number of factors, including the person's gender, body size and the type of alcohol.

South Carolina DUI Penalties

South Carolina's DUI statutes specify the penalties for a DUI conviction depending on the number of prior DUIs (within the last ten years) and the driver's BAC. Prior DUI offenses that occurred in South Carolina, as well as other states, are counted.

1st Offense 2nd Offense

3rd Offense


48 hours to 90 days

5 days to 3 years

60 days to 5 years


$400 to $1,000

$2,100 to $6,500

$3,800 to $10,000

Treatment. Every DUI conviction requires the offender to enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. As part of the program, all offenders must obtain an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommended treatment.

Community service. First-time offenders are eligible to do community service instead of serving jail time. The amount of community service will be equal to the amount of jail time that would have been required.

BAC levels. The penalties listed are minimum and maximums for a first, second, and third offense. However, the penalties are further differentiated based on the BAC of the driver.

Driver's License Sanctions

For a DUI conviction, the court will order the driver's license to be suspended or restricted.

First offense. A first-offense DUI will result in a six-month driver's license suspension. The driver may obtain a temporary provisional license that permits driving but requires completion of treatment requirements. Drivers who refused testing or had a BAC of .15% or greater cannot obtain a provisional license but may drive under the ignition interlock device (IID) program.

Second offense. A second-offense DUI requires two years with an installed IID.

Third offense. A third-offense DUI requires three years with an IID. This increases to four years if the driver had three DUIs within five years.

Immobilize. For second and subsequent convictions, the judge will immobilize any vehicle owned by the convicted that is not equipped with an IID "immobilized." Immobilization requires the temporary forfeiture of the license plate and registration.

BAC of .15% or more. Drivers with a BAC of .15% or greater face an additional one, two, and three-month suspension for a first-, second-, and third-offense DUI, respectively.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical or Breath Test in South Carolina

South Carolina's "implied consent" laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. An unlawful refusal will result in a suspension of six, nine, and 12 months, for a first, second, and third offense, respectively. Persons suspended may enroll in the IID Program and complete the remainder of the suspension with a restricted license and an IID.

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