Understanding DUI penalties in South Carolina

South Carolina motorists who have been charged with drunk driving may face serious penalties. A conviction can lead to people losing their driver's licenses. Even a temporary suspension can mean that people may lose their jobs, and they may find themselves unable to keep up with school or family obligations. It is important to fully understand the laws in order for people to best protect themselves. When people are convicted of a first offense, they could be fined up to $992 and face a six-month suspension of their license. For later offenses, the penalties become even more severe.

A second drunk driving offense could lead to a fine of up to $10,744 with all penalties and assessments included, suspension of a driver's license for one year and imprisonment from five days to one full year. A third offense means at least a two-year license suspension, imprisonment and even steeper fines. If the third offense occurs within five years of the first offense, the license is suspended for four years; in addition, if the driver was the owner of the vehicle, it will be confiscated by the police. Later offenses lead to a permanent revocation of a driver's license and a prison term of at least one year.

State law defines drunk driving as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 and higher. People with a BAC of 0.05 can still be charged with drunk driving if police cite other evidence to show that they were under the influence. Drivers in South Carolina are considered to have consented to blood, breath or urine testing.

People accused of DUI in South Carolina may face severe penalties if convicted. It is thus advisable for them to meet with an attorney as soon as possible so that a strategy to combat the allegations can be devised.

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