Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges refer to more than just the well-known blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Under South Carolina law, you may be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of any drug, including alcohol, which impairs your ability to safely drive. Keep in mind that limits are stricter for those under age 21, with a limit of .02 percent blood alcohol content.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is imperative that you get in touch with one of our experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorneys right away in order to figure out the next steps you should take.
What Are My Rights in an SC DUI test?
When you’re pulled over on suspicion of a DUI in South Carolina, it is important to know your rights in order to protect yourself and your case going forward. First, you do not have to submit to a field sobriety test, as it is not required by law. You may simply politely decline if asked to perform these sobriety tests.
If the officer requests that you take a breathalyzer, you can refuse. However, refusing a breath test will typically result in an automatic six-month driver’s license suspension, which can be reversed at an administrative hearing. This suspension arises from South Carolina law, which states that all drivers give their implied consent to a breathalyzer test.
Additionally, under the same law, no testing is allowed unless the officer has begun video recording, explained your rights and the potential penalties you may face, and give you a written copy of those rights and penalties. Officers are also prohibited from obtaining blood or urine samples unless they are physically unable to perform the breath test.
Penalties for DUI in South Carolina
If you are charged, you will find that penalties for DUI are strict under the South Carolina code, which does not allow the suspension of minimum sentences. This makes it essential that you exercise your rights and hire a Charleston DUI lawyer to assist you. If this is your first offense, your punishment will vary based on your blood alcohol content level, but will always include completion of an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
If your blood alcohol content was under .10 percent, penalties include:
- 48 hours – 30 days in jail
- If sentenced to the minimum 48 hours in jail, this sentence may be substituted with equivalent community service by a judge
- $400 fine
- Six-month license suspension
- May obtain a provisional license once enrolled in a treatment program to drive during a suspension
If your blood alcohol content was .10 percent or higher, but less than .16 percent you’ll face increased penalties, including:
- 72 hours – 30 days in jail
- If sentenced to the minimum 72 hours in jail, the sentence may be substituted with equivalent community service by a judge
- $500 fine
- Additional one-month license suspension if BAC is .15 percent or higher
- No provisional license allowed, but ignition interlock restricted license permitted after conviction
For drivers with a blood alcohol content of .16 percent or higher, penalties include:
- 30-90 days in jail
- If sentenced to the minimum 30 days in jail, the sentence may be substituted with equivalent community service by a judge
- $1,000 fine
Subsequent offenses will bring even steeper penalties, including a minimum $2,100 fine and five days in jail for a second offense.