Glossary of DUI Terms in South Carolina

If you have undergone an arrest for drunk driving in South Carolina, then you will most likely face a judge in a court of law at some point for the offense. Going to court can cause people to feel intimidated, confused, and even stressed—especially when they hear words or phrases they do not understand. While most DUI lawyers will explain these terms to you, it is beneficial to have an initial understanding of what they mean.

You might hear the following list of common words and phrases regarding your impaired driving offense, so are their definitions to help you understand them.

DUI versus DWI

DUIs and DWIs mean slightly different things in South Carolina, but they have many similarities as well.

In South Carolina, a DUI means “driving under the influence” of drugs and/or alcohol, while a DWI means “driving while impaired.”

The punishment for a DUI or DWI infraction varies depending on several factors, including the offender’s age, the detected blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, the number of prior offenses on the driver’s driving record, and more.


South Carolina also has DUAC laws, or “driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration.” Under the state’s “per se” DUAC statute, “impairment” evidence is unnecessary for a conviction.

Ignition Interlock Devices

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device that attaches to your vehicle’s ignition system that evaluates your BAC before you start your car. After your second or next DUI/DWI offense, you will have to install an IID. Maintenance fees and monitoring fees are the driver’s responsibility to pay, and the device must undergo an inspection every 60 days by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole.

SR-22 Certification of Insurance

Following their DUI arrest, uninsured drivers who have caused an accident may need to fulfill additional requirements to reinstate their driver’s license.

Some states want validation that the driver has obtained auto insurance and the insurance company to send verification that the driver has auto insurance liability coverage to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This active auto insurance policy verification is called an SR-22 Certificate of Insurance (also known as an FR-44 in some states).

An SR-22 is not insurance coverage itself—it is a form sent to the DMV and is sometimes called a Certificate of Responsibility.

Before a driver can get their driver’s license reinstated, drivers will receive a notification saying they need to complete the SR-22, which shows proof of auto insurance coverage.

Filing the SR-22 requires a payment (which is generally $25 depending on the state). This payment is a one-time fee, which has no association with your auto insurance coverage policy.

Zero Tolerance

While many people believe that “zero tolerance” laws apply to everyone, that is not the case.

South Carolina’s “zero tolerance” laws prohibit anyone 21 years of age from operating a motor vehicle if they have a BAC greater than .02%. Under this law, a person under the age of 21 who drives with a BAC greater than .02% will have their driver’s license automatically suspended for three months or six months if there is a previous alcohol-related conviction or suspension throughout the preceding five years.

Implied Consent

South Carolina law says that drivers throughout the state are considered to have consented to the testing of breath, blood, or urine to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol.

If you refused to do the BAC test, you would face suspension of your driver’s license for 6-months. In the event you have a previous alcohol-related sentence/suspension throughout the preceding ten years, you might face a suspension of your driver’s license for 9-months.

Open Container Laws

While behind the wheel, drivers face harsh penalties if they have an open alcoholic beverage container. To avoid the issuance of said penalties, put the open container of alcohol in the car’s trunk or back compartment.

This DUI law does not apply to cars parked in legal parking spots during sporting events or similar happenings.

Hardship License

A hardship license in South Carolina is for those drivers with a DUI suspended license to acquire a hardship credential to drive a vehicle while finishing their penalty period.

Provisional License

Sometimes, depending on the offense, drivers can request a provisional license. In South Carolina, provisional licenses are only for first-time DUI offenders who have completed an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program and have no other suspensions.

Temporary Alcohol License

After a DUI arrest, you have thirty (30) days to attain a Temporary Alcohol Restricted License (TARL), which will allow you to drive in South Carolina legally. Eligible drivers can request a temporary alcohol license while waiting to receive the results of their administrative hearing.

Route Restricted License

Depending on your circumstances, a restricted route license applies to those who have a DUI conviction that runs for the suspension period. The restrictions only allow you to drive to work, school court, etc.

Contact Us

If you have a DUI conviction or hear legal words that you do not understand or comprehend, help is available at The Bateman Firm.

Contact us, and one of our Clemson, SC DUI attorneys will help you today!

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