In most cases a DUI conviction is a misdemeanor, but because it’s considered a traffic offense under South Carolina Law, it can never be expunged.
That means it will remain on your record for the rest of your life.
Unlike most traffic offenses, a DUI is not point-based like speeding tickets so it never “falls off” your driving record. It is a criminal conviction that will appear on background checks and more.
Whatsmore, a DUI conviction in South Carolina can result in:
- license suspension,
- large fines,
- mandatory minimum jail sentences,
- ignition interlock devices,
- a requirement to keep SR-22 insurance for a minimum of three years and longer if you miss a payment,
- and a requirement of completing the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP).
South Carolina DUI is a Graduated Offense
DUI penalties in South Carolina are graduated which means that the length of the potential jail time, including mandatory minimum sentences, increases following each additional conviction.
The length of the potential license suspension also increases with each additional conviction, and the length of potential jail time and license suspension also increases based on the breathalyzer result.
What this means is that you must fight the first DUI. Once you have a DUI conviction, the damage is done and any DUI arrests following the first conviction will land you in General Session Court instead of the lower magistrate or municipal courts.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for South Carolina DUIs
Even on a first-offense DUI with no breathalyzer result, South Carolina now has a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of public service.
On a first-offense DUI with a breathalyzer result greater than .15, there is a 30-day mandatory minimum sentence, and it can carry up to 90 days in jail.
The mandatory minimums and maximum potential sentences for DUI increase based on the number of prior offenses and breathalyzer result.
For example, for a fourth-offense DUI with a BAC greater than .15 there is a mandatory minimum of three years in prison and up to seven years in prison.
Sentences cannot be suspended by the court and, after the first offense, community service is no longer an option.
Ignition Interlock Devices in South Carolina
In 2014, the South Carolina legislature passed what is called “Emma’s Law,” which requires even some first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle before they can drive.
The ignition interlock is a device that the driver must blow into to ensure that there is no alcohol in their system before their car will start, and it must be monitored by the probation department.
The ignition interlock requirements are graduated like the jail time and license suspension requirements, and the length of time that a person must keep the device on their vehicle is increased with each offense after the first DUI conviction.
Facing a DUI charge in SC?
The DUI laws in SC are complicated. It is definitely not a situation you want to face alone. South Carolina DUI attorneys have experience with the criminal justice system and know how it works. Consider taking the stress out of the situation and contact an attorney.
Call (843) 488-5000 to find out how we can help. You can also fill out our online form to set up a free, no-strings-attached consultation.