Because driving under the influence (DUI) can be dangerous, South Carolina drivers face significant penalties if they are found guilty of drunk driving. These penalties can involve costly fines prison time and license suspensions that limit your freedom.

What penalties might you face for drunk driving in South Carolina?

If the authorities find you guilty of driving with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit or while below the legal limit but still noticeably impaired, the penalties depend on your criminal record. Penalties can include:

  • First convictions—Penalties for a first drunk driving convictions include fines of up to $400, imprisonment for up to 30 days and a six-month driver’s license suspension.
  • Second convictions—Penalties for a second drunk driving convictions include fines of between $2,100 and $5,100, imprisonment for up to one year and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
  • Third convictions—Penalties for a third drunk driving convictions include fines of between $3,800 and $6,300, imprisonment for up to three years and a driver’s license suspension of two years. Suspensions can be longer depending on the amount of time since the first conviction.
  • Fourth or subsequent convictions—Penalties drunk driving with three or more prior convictions include fines of imprisonment for up to five years and permanent driver’s license revocation.

These fines and penalties can be even more significant if a driver has a high blood alcohol concentration or harms someone else as a result of their drunk driving.

What does South Carolina law say about open containers of alcohol?

In South Carolina, you also face penalties for having any open container of beer, wine or liquor in your vehicle while driving, even if you did not drink. Penalties include fines of up to $100 and a maximum of 30 days in prison.

Because DUI charges — even without prior convictions — can significantly impact on your life and your freedom, it can be important to speak to an attorney if you face drunk driving charges.