Alcohol laws in SC cover a broad range of situations – use of alcohol while driving, use of alcohol while boating, alcohol sales, underage drinking and possession of alcohol, and SC liquor laws are some of the most common. 

Although there are common themes, alcohol laws differ from state to state – if you are new to SC, or if you are visiting the Myrtle Beach area, you may not be familiar with SC’s laws and regulations concerning alcohol sales, underage alcohol laws, and open container laws.

Below, we will look at some of the more common alcohol laws in SC that can result in criminal charges, some of the penalties you will face if you are convicted of these offenses, and how to avoid a stay at the local jail for alcohol violations… 

Alcohol Laws in SC: Driving   

SC law enforcement aggressively enforces the state’s DUI laws – to the point where many people who are not driving under the influence end up arrested and facing DUI charges because the officer smelled alcohol. 

Note that it is not illegal to drink and drive in SC

It is illegal to drink and then drive when your faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired.

A DUI-related conviction in SC can result in mandatory jail time, license suspensions, ignition interlock device requirements, mandatory ADSAP classes, and a DUI conviction that can never be expunged from your record. 

Implied Consent

SC’s implied consent laws say that you have “impliedly consented” to breath, urine, or blood tests when you drive on SC highways. 

If you refuse an alcohol test, your license will be suspended, and you may have to install an ignition interlock device before you can drive again. On the other hand, if you take the test and the result is greater than .15, your license is still suspended, and you may have to install an ignition interlock device before you can drive again.

In either case, you will need to request an administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest if you want to challenge the implied consent suspension. 


Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, or DUAC, is SC’s DUI per-se law. It is different than an “ordinary” DUI because the state does not have to prove that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired – they only need to prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was greater than .08. 

Child Endangerment 

Alcohol laws in SC include a “child endangerment law.” 

If you are convicted of DUI, DUAC, felony DUI, or failure to stop for a blue light, and if there is a minor in the vehicle at the time of the incident, then you are subject to an additional fine and additional jail time up to one-half of the maximum sentence possible for the underlying offense. 

Felony DUI

SC’s felony DUI laws cover situations where a person 1) is under the influence, 2) is driving, 3) commits a traffic violation, and 4) it results in either death or great bodily injury to another person. 

The penalties for a felony DUI in SC can be harsh – most people who are convicted of felony DUI spend time in prison, and the maximum penalty is up to 25 years for felony DUI resulting in death. 

Boating and Alcohol Laws

SC law also prohibits boating while under the influence (BUI)

BUI is similar to DUI laws in SC in that the state must prove that you were 1) operating a watercraft 2) while your ability to safely operate the craft was materially and appreciably impaired. 

Open Container Laws in SC

Alcohol laws in SC also prohibit open containers of beer or wine in a motor vehicle unless it is secured in the trunk or luggage compartment, and a violation carries up to 30 days in jail. 

You can transport liquor in your vehicle, but, if the seal has been broken or opened, it must be secured in a trunk, cargo area, or luggage area that is separate from the driver and passenger areas. 

Many cities and counties also have local ordinances that prohibit open containers on the sidewalks or roads – check the local laws before you walk down the street with an open beer…  

Alcohol Laws in SC: Underage Drinking Laws in SC

There are a number of alcohol laws in SC that address underage drinking, sales, or possession of alcohol by minors, including:

  • Minor in possession of alcohol: It is a crime for any person under the age of 21 to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol. 
  • Underage DUI: SC has a separate, “zero tolerance” DUI law that allows police to charge a minor if their blood alcohol content is .02 or higher
  • Fake IDs: use of a fake ID by a minor or lying about your age to purchase alcohol are both crimes in SC.    

Although it is illegal for someone to sell or give alcohol to a minor, it is legal for a parent or guardian to provide alcohol to a minor child. 

Alcohol Laws in SC: Alcohol Sales

Alcohol sales in SC are heavily regulated. Some of the more common alcohol laws related to sales that result in arrests and criminal prosecution or regulatory violations include sales of alcohol to minors, sales of alcohol on Sunday, and license violations.     

Sale of alcohol to minors: Law enforcement regularly tests establishments that sell alcohol to see if they will sell to minors. If you sell alcohol to a minor, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and your establishment may lose its alcohol licenses.  

SC liquor laws: In SC, you can purchase beer or wine at grocery stores, but liquor must be purchased at a liquor store. 

Sunday sales: One holdover from SC’s “Blue Laws” is that alcohol sales are still prohibited on Sundays, except where local governments permit them. If you are looking to buy beer, wine, or liquor on a Sunday in SC, you will need to check the local county ordinance to see if it is legal or not. 

Alcohol and DUI Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC

The Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorneys at Coastal Law represent clients charged with all types of alcohol violations – including DUI, minor in possession, open container, and ABC violations. 

If you have been arrested in SC, call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or contact us through our website for a free consultation to find out whether there are alternatives to a criminal conviction and what your options are. 

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