South Carolina motorists arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance could receive either misdemeanor or felony charges. Even for a first offense, the state mandates minimum jail time for DUI.

If you are facing a South Carolina DUI charge in court, familiarize yourself with the potential legal penalties for a conviction.

First offense penalties

The state considers DUI a misdemeanor when the person shows obvious impairment and blood alcohol content of at least 0.05% or BAC above 0.08%. Drivers younger than 21 can receive a DUI with BAC above 0.02%. Penalties when you have no other DUI convictions in the past 10 years may include:

  • Fines and surcharges of up to $992
  • At least 48 hours and up to 30 days in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for six months

Second offense penalties

If you already had a DUI in the past 10 years, another conviction could result in:

  • Fines and surcharges of up to $10,744
  • At least five days and up to one year in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for 12 months

Subsequent offenses

Drivers with two previous DUIs when convicted may receive:

  • Fines and surcharges of up to $13,234
  • At least 60 days and up to three years in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for 24 months

A fourth conviction carries extensive fines, at least one year and up to five years in jail, and a permanently revoked driver’s license

Felony charges

Felony DUI occurs in South Carolina when a drunk driving accident results in a serious injury or death. Offenders will receive up to $21,000 in fines and at least 30 days in jail for bodily injury. DUI death results in a minimum of one and up to 25 years in prison along with fines of up to $52,000.

Drivers can receive additional penalties for refusing a breath test because South Carolina is an implied consent state. Driving with an open container also carries enhanced fines.