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South Carolina has enacted tougher laws on Driving Under the Influence or South Carolina DUI that take effect in 2009 for all SC DUI convictions. In 2006, nearly 850 people were killed and more than 7,000 were injured in alcohol-related wrecks in South Carolina. About 50 percent of all highway deaths in South Carolina are alcohol-related, and approximately 20 percent of all South Carolina driving under the influence convictions involve repeat offenders.

Tough New DUI Laws

South Carolina's new DUI law went into effect February 10, 2009. There are quite a few minor revisions, but the main changes are found in the penalties, which are now graduated based on the blood alcohol level or BAC. Repeat South Carolina DUI offenders are now more likely to spend jail time and also will be required to install DUI ignition interlock devices.

First South Carolina DUI offense: $400.00 or 48 hours to 30 days in jail, or 48 hours community service. If the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .10 to .15: $500.00 or 72 hours to 30 days in jail, or 72 hours community service. If the BAC is .16 or greater: $1000.00 or 30 days to 90 days, or 30 days community service.

Second South Carolina DUI offense: $2100.00 to $5100.00 and 5 days to 1 year in prison. BAC of .10 to .15: $2100.00 to $5100.00 and 30 days to 2 years in prison. BAC of .16 or greater: $3500.00 to $6500.00 and 90 days to 3 years in prison.

Third South Carolina DUI offense: $3800.00 to $6300.00 and 60 days to 3 years in prison. BAC of .10 to .15: $5000.00 to $7500.00 and 90 days to 4 years in prison. BAC of .16 or more: $7500.00 to $10,000.00 and 6 months to 5 years in prison.

Fourth South Carolina DUI offense: 1 year to 5 years in prison. BAC of .10 to .15: 2 years to 6 years in prison. BAC of .16 or more: 3 years to 7 years in prison.

If you are convicted of a South Carolina driving under the influence, the jury makes the determination of the BAC. The jury must reach a unanimous verdict on the BAC or the enhanced DUI penalties will not apply.

Ignition Interlock Device

Following any conviction for a South Carolina DUI 2nd offense or greater, the person's driver's license is suspended, they must "immobilize" (surrender the tags and registration) all vehicles registered in their name for 30 days (during the suspension period), and after the suspension period has run they must install an ignition interlock device.

Even if a SC DUI 2nd is remanded to the magistrate court for a plea to DUI 1st, the ignition interlock requirement applies, because it is determined by what is on the driving record and not what is before the Court. After a 2nd offense DUI the ignition interlock must be complied with for 1 year, after a 3rd offense 3 years, and after 4th offense the law says a defendant must have an ignition interlock device for the rest of their life, although there is a separate provision to apply for relief after 10 years.

The device, which looks like a walkie-talkie, fits on a vehicle’s dashboard and is wired to the car’s ignition system. The driver blows into the unit before starting the vehicle; if the driver’s blood-alcohol level is over .02 percent, the vehicle won’t start. In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level at or above .08 percent.

If you are convicted of a repeat South Carolina DUI you must install the device in any vehicle you own or “routinely operate.” It does not apply to vehicles owned by your employer. You can refuse to have the device installed but your South Carolina Drivers License will be suspended for an additional three years.

South Carolina’s DUI interlock program will be administered by the state’s probation, motor vehicle and drug abuse services departments. South Carolina offenders will pay $70 to install the devices on their vehicles and an additional $90 monthly monitoring fee.

DUI Law on Refusing the Breathlyzer

If arrested for SC DUI and you refuse to blow into the Datamaster or give a blood test, your license to drive in South Carolina will be suspended immediately for 90 days (180 days if the arrest is a second offense for DUI within 10 years) and if you do give a sample and it registers .15 or higher, your license to drive in South Carolina will be suspended immediately for 30 days (60 days if the arrest is a second offense for DUI within 10 years).


A person who refuses to blow (or refuses to give a blood sample) or who blows .15 or higher has the right to a hearing before a hearing officer on the issues of whether or not certain procedural safeguards were followed by the police officers if the hearing is requested within 30 days of the arrest. If the person requests a hearing within 30 days, the person has the right to drive pending the requested hearing on a temporary/alcohol restricted license. If the hearing is not requested, or the hearing officer upholds the administrative license suspension, the person may be entitled to a work or education restricted license.

Your DUI Videotape

Have you ever watched "Cops" on TV and seen the people trying to "walk the line"? If you are arrested in South Carolina for driving under the influence you will be videotaped and this will be the most damming evidence against you at your DUI trial.

South Carolina is the only state in the nation with mandatory videotaping of the arrest and breath test. A videotape is the most accurate, honest, representation of what happened at the DUI arrest.

South Carolina law requires that the videotape begin with the activation of the officer’s blue lights and not end until after the arrest of the person for DUI. It must include the person being advised of Miranda before any field sobriety tests are administered. The failure to read Miranda on tape can result in exclusion of the videotape.

The videotaping at the breath site must be completed within three hours or the breath test will be subjected to suppression. The breath site video must include the entire breath test procedure: the reading of the implied consent warning, checking the mouth, waiting 20 minutes, informing the defendant of the videotape recording, and letting the defendant know he or she can refuse the test.

If there is no way to videotape the proceedings, the officer must fill out a sworn affidavit certifying that it was physically impossible to videotape this waiting period. The arresting officer may administer the breath test if he is certified and the 20 minute observation period is videotaped.

If videotaping is not conducted properly when it could have been, then the DUI case can be dismissed. However, if the proper affidavits are filed explaining with sufficient reason, the judge may waive the videotape requirement.

State vs. Manning Discussion of Videotape Exceptions.

The worst consequences of a SC DUI conviction are the license suspension and the financial consequences. In South Carolina, it is $150 to request an implied consent hearing and $100 to obtain a temporary license from the DMV. South Carolina DUI fines can run into the thousands for the DUI and related traffic tickets. ADSAP, which is mandatory if you lose the administrative hearing or if you are convicted of the DUI, can cost up to $2500. There is a $100 reinstatement fee after the 6 month suspension for a DUI 1st offense, and then SR-22 insurance for 3 years which can cost thousands more. This is all on top of the cost of hiring a South Carolina DUI attorney to fight the charges.

South Carolina is serious about "if you drink, don't drive."

Hardship License

§ 56-5-2951 allows a special South Carolina restricted or hardship driver's license if you are employed or enrolled in a college or university. The special restricted license permits you to drive only to and from work and his place of education and in the course of employment or education during the period of suspension. The special South Carolina restricted license also permits you to drive to and from the Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program classes or to a court-ordered drug program.

Also, a provisional driver's license is available under § 56-1-1320. Individuals suspended for first offense driving under the influence or unlawful alcohol concentration will be eligible for a provisional license if they meet the following criteria:

1. They must have or have had a South Carolina driver’s license or be exempt under South Carolina Code of Laws 56-1-30.
2. They must have no other suspensions following the driving under the influence or unlawful alcohol concentration suspension except implied consent, implied consent under 21, BAC of .02 or greater, BAC of .15 or greater deriving from the same incident.
3. They must have enrolled in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
4. They must have a certificate of SR-22 insurance on file with the Department of Public Safety.
5. The cost for a provisional driver’s license is $100.00.

If a person does not request an administrative hearing within the ten-day period as authorized pursuant to § 56-5-2951, the person may file with the department a form after enrolling in an approved Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program to apply for a special restricted driver's license.

Under § 56-1-1320 only first offenders of DUI related offenses can receive a provisional license.

What are the requirements for getting a South Carolina hardship license?

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle may issue the special restricted driver's license only upon showing by the individual that he is employed or enrolled in a college or university, that he lives further than one mile from his place of employment, place of education, or location of his Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program classes, or the location of his court-ordered drug program, and that there is no adequate public transportation between his residence and his place of employment, his place of education, the location of his Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program classes, or the location of his court-ordered drug program. § 56-5-2951.

A fee is required to be paid for issuing the special restricted driving license.

There is no restriction against minors receiving a special restricted driving license under § 56-5-2

South Carolina DUI Case Law

Discussion of Field Sobriety Test Videotape

South Carolina DUI Attorneys

Greenville DUI Lawyer
Wayne Patterson
P.O. Box 14757
Greenville, SC 29610
Phone: 864-270-7973

Wayne Patterson is a traffic, DUI and personal injury lawyer covering Greenville, Pickens, Greer, Spartanburg, Laurens, Anderson, Clemson and Duncan.

Reviews of Lloyd Wayne Patterson, South Carolina DUI Attorney

Columbia DUI Attorney

The Lord Law Firm, LLC, located in Irmo, South Carolina near Columbia provides experienced, effective defense statewide to South Carolinian's and residents of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and other states who have received traffic tickets or been charged with a DUI offense in SC.

7436 Broad River Road
Bldg. 1, Suite 110
Irmo, SC 29063-7601

Toll Free: (877) 407-4140
Website: SC DUI Defense

Ray is a former police officer and assistant solicitor handling Traffic Violations and Speeding Tickets, DUI, DUAC, BUI and Traffic Defense, Criminal Defense, and personal injury cases mainly in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Clarendon, Lee, and York counties but regularly appears in all state and city courts.

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