What Are the Penalties for DUI in South Carolina?

If you’re arrested and charged with DUI in South Carolina, you’ll be facing rather stiff penalties. While there are a few states with stricter penalties than South Carolina, many states carry the same or lesser penalties. Knowing what the consequences are for even a first-offense DUI, your Spartanburg DUI defense lawyer will do their best to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether.

While there’s never a guarantee, your odds of having your case plead down to a reckless driving charge are much better if you have a criminal defense attorney from Spartanburg, South Carolina by your side.

Here, we’ll discuss the various penalties associated with a DUI in South Carolina. There are a few things you must keep in mind before we break down the specific penalties for each offense level. First, every DUI conviction carries a mandatory license suspension.

Second, the “look-back” period is 10 years. This means that any prior arrests within ten years will be considered for purposes of determining whether it’s your first, second, or third offense. With this having been explained, the remainder of this article will describe, in detail, the penalties associated with each level of DUI in South Carolina.

The Penalties for a First Offense DUI in South Carolina Are Serious

If you’re arrested for DUI in South Carolina and you have no prior convictions, it will be considered your first offense. While the penalties for this charge are still severe, they’re nowhere near as stiff as they are for subsequent offenses.

Currently, the penalties for a 1st offense DUI in South Carolina include the following:

  • Fines of up to $1,000. If your BAC is higher than a .10, the fines increase. The maximum fine of $1,000 applies to defendants with a BAC of .16 or higher.
  • Jail sentence of anywhere from 2 days to 90 days, depending on your BAC at the time of your arrest.
  • A mandatory 6-month license suspension. Your Spartanburg DUI defense lawyer can request that the judge approve a provisional license so that you can get back and forth to school or work during this 6-month period.

Being Charged with a 2nd Offense DUI Carries an Even Harsher Punishment

If you have a prior DUI in South Carolina within the last ten years, you’ll be charged with a 2nd level DUI. This is still considered a misdemeanor. In fact, it isn’t until your 4th DUI in a ten-year period that your charges will rise to the level of a felony.

Spartanburg DUI defense lawyer concept

The penalties for a 2nd offense DUI in South Carolina include:

  • Fines anywhere from $2,100 to $6,500. Again, as with a 1st offense, the amount of the fine will depend on your BAC at the time of your arrest.
  • Jail time ranging anywhere from 5 days to 3 years. This depends on the specific facts of your case as well as your BAC.
  • A mandatory license suspension of at least 1 year.

Anybody convicted of a 2nd offense DUI (or greater) will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. They will also have to pay to have the unit installed and maintained in their car or SUV. The length of time that you’ll need to carry the IID depends on the judge’s original sentence.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Spartanburg, South Carolina Don’t See Many 3rd Offense DUIs

It isn’t often that our associates meet with drivers who have been arrested for a 3rd offense DUI in South Carolina. It isn’t that these cases don’t exist. It’s just that most people who have one DUI don’t make the mistake of having another. It isn’t until after a driver has 2 or 3 DUI convictions under their belt that they throw caution to the wind and blatantly drive drunk. These are the cases that involve long prison sentences for lack of a deterrent.

If you have been arrested for your third DUI in ten years, however, we can still help. The penalties for this level offense are high. They include the following:

  • Fines from $3,800 to $10,000. The judge has wide discretion in applying these fines. Just keep in mind, the minimum fine you’ll be ordered to pay is $3,800.
  • A jail sentence of at least 60 days and up to as many as 5 years. Again, your prior criminal history and your BAC at the time of your most recent arrest will determine your jail sentence.
  • Your license will be suspended for at least 2 years.

Most people don’t go beyond a third offense DUI in South Carolina. However, in case your case does involve a 4th offense DUI, it is worth explaining the penalties here. These include:

  • Jail term of 1 to 7 years
  • Permanent revocation of your license
  • Fines of up to $10,000

Contact a Skilled Spartanburg DUI Defense Lawyer Right Away

If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI in South Carolina, you’re going to have your first hearing in a matter of days. This is where the court will read the charges against you and ask you whether you plead guilty or not guilty. It’s a good idea to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They will work hard from the very start to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed outright.

Call our office and talk to one of our staff so they can schedule your initial consultation. If need be, one of our Spartanburg DUI defense lawyers can come out to the jail to meet with you. This is usually reserved for cases where a potential client has been arrested for DUI but is being held for other possible charges. Most people arrested for a simple DUI in South Carolina are released from jail rather quickly.

With so much at stake, it’s in your best interest to hire someone who understands the law. You also want someone who has a working relationship with the prosecutor. This will increase your chances of having your charges dismissed or, at the very least, reduced.