South Carolina DUI Laws, Fines and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina.

What are the penalties for a DUI in South Carolina?

DUI fines and penalties in South Carolina vary according to the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the driver when arrested. It is against the law to drive with a BAC above .08.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

4th Offense


48 hours to 90 days

5 days up to 3 years

60 days up to 5 years

1 to 7 years

Fines and Penalties

$400 to $1,000

$2,100 to $6,500

$3,800 to $10,000

Up to $10,000

License Suspension

6 months

1 year

2 years


IID** Required





Lookback Period: 10 years (Period of time that prior DUIs are relevant for sentencing. Also known as a “washout” period.)

Multiple convictions for drunk driving may also result in a court ordered installation of an **Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle at the convicted drivers expense. You may also be ordered to a alcohol or drug intervention program. The Department of Motor Vehicles will publish and release the names of all drivers who have had their license suspended because of a DUI.

How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a DUI in South Carolina?

Under 21


21 or older




** BAC = blood alcohol content

How many drinks does it take? Check the BAC chart.

You may want to try our BAC Calculator, however I wouldn't let any results encourage you to drink and drive.

What if you refuse to take a chemical test in South Carolina?

South Carolina has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. Learn more about South Carolina’s implied consent law.

1st Offense

2d Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

6 month license suspension

9 month license suspension

1 year license suspension

Disclaimer: While we strive to keep this information up to date and accurate, it's important to understand that it's based on your states legislature. Your local courts, judges, district attorneys office and even local law enforcement will have a huge impact on how the law is actually applied in any given case. No amount of legal information can replace the advice of a local attorney familiar with DUI cases in your area.

Can you plead to a lesser offense than DUI in South Carolina?

No, a plea bargain for a conviction of "wet reckless" (reckless driving involving alcohol) is barred by statute in South Carolina.

Drinking and Driving Laws in South Carolina

It is illegal in the State of South Carolina to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. The limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21. The .08 limit is the standard measurement of the "impaired" driver throughout the United States. In addition to alcohol, it is also illegal to drive in the State of South Carolina under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicating substances.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in South Carolina? There isn't one correct answer to this question, there are calculators and tables that can serve as a reference, however these devices cannot predict with certainty what your exact BAC level will be at a given time. There are many factors that contribute to an individuals BAC score, including weight, sex, body-fat percentage and the time interval between drinks. Studies have show that a persons BAC could go up between .01-.05 percent for each drink taken. The fact is it takes very little alcohol to become legally drunk and each drink taken is a another step closer to becoming an "impaired" driver.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of South Carolina has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in South Carolina, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

Changes in the South Carolina Drunk Driving Law

On 04/28/08 the Governor of South Carolina signed House Bill 3496. This bill revises the period of time a person's privilege to drive must be suspended when he refuses to submit to a chemical DUI test. The new bill also relates to an administrative hearing and the immobilization of a motor vehicle owned by a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence. The bill also increases the fee for reregistering an immobilized motor vehicle and relates to videotaping a breath test. In addition the bill also requires a person to pay for costs of a breath test and relates to a restricted license and payment for alcohol treatment services.


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