If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), it is important to understand what is at stake in your case. All DUI charges carry substantial penalties in South Carolina, and various factors can increase the consequences of a conviction.

This makes fighting your DUI charge extremely important. Regardless of the facts of your case, you should not plead guilty in court. Before you say or do anything that could jeopardize your future, you should talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer to ensure that you are making smart decisions with your long-term best interests in mind.

What Are the Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction in South Carolina?

What will a DUI conviction cost you? Here is an overview of the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in South Carolina:


South Carolina DUI charges carry substantial fines. These fines increase as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases and as you accumulate DUI convictions on your record. Other factors can increase the fines for a DUI as well. For example, if you are being accused of causing a serious or fatal accident while driving under the influence, you could be facing a felony DUI charge—and these charges carry significantly enhanced penalties.

Some examples of the potential fines in South Carolina DUI cases include:

  • First Offense (BAC below 0.10%) – Up to $400
  • First Offense (BAC between 0.10% and 0.15%) – Up to $500
  • First Offense (BAC above 0.15%) – Up to $1,000
  • Second Offense – $2,100 to $5,100
  • Third Offense – $3,800 to $6,300
  • Felony DUI – $5,100 to $25,100

Assessments and Surcharges

In addition to fines, DUI convictions in South Carolina can also result in liability for assessments and surcharges. These additional costs can exceed the fine for a DUI in many cases. For example, while the fine for a “standard” first-time offense with a BAC below 0.10% is $400, assessments and surcharges in these cases can total almost $600—bringing the total cost to nearly $1,000. Assessments and surcharges can more than double the financial costs of the other DUI charges listed above as well.

Driver’s License Suspension

Getting convicted of DUI in South Carolina can also mean losing your driver’s license. For a first offense, you can lose your driver’s license for up to six months. This increases to a year for a second offense; and, for a third offense, you can lose your driver’s license for up to four years. If you already have three DUIs on your record, or if you are facing a felony DUI, a conviction could result in permanent revocation of your right to drive.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible to apply for a route-restricted license. However, this can be expensive; and, if you deviate from your authorized route, this can lead to additional penalties.

Ignition Interlock Device

Once your driving privileges are restored, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. This will become mandatory in May 2024. You will have to buy and install the IID at your own expense, and you will have to have your IID inspected at a service center every 60 days.

Jail Time or Community Service

In South Carolina, all DUI charges carry the potential for jail time. If convicted, you can be sentenced as follows:

  • First Offense (BAC below 0.10%) – 48 hours to 30 days
  • First Offense (BAC between 0.10% and 0.15%) – 72 hours to 30 days
  • First Offense (BAC above 0.15%) – 30 days
  • Second Offense – Five days to one year
  • Third Offense – 60 days to three years
  • Felony DUI – 30 days to 25 years

In some (but not all) cases, it will be possible to serve community service instead of jail time. If you get sentenced to community service, you must make sure that you have a way to get to your community service on time. If you miss a scheduled community service date, you can be sent to jail and face an additional fine.

Additional Consequences of a DUI Conviction in South Carolina

While the penalties for a DUI in South Carolina can be severe, these aren’t the only consequences you will face if you get convicted. DUI arrests can present a variety of other risks as well. For example, depending on your circumstances, you could also face:

  • Additional penalties for an implied consent violation (refusing the breath test), open container violation, or another traffic violation or crime
  • Increased insurance premiums (having a DUI conviction on your record will classify you as a “high-risk” driver, and this can increase your annual premiums by hundreds of dollars for several years)
  • Loss of your job or limited job prospects in the future
  • Loss of financing opportunities, financial assistance, and scholarships
  • Limited housing options
  • Professional license or security clearance suspension, revocation, or denial

Again, these are just examples. It is not an exaggeration to say that a DUI conviction can truly impact all aspects of your life. Hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer can help ensure that the consequences of your arrest are no greater than necessary.

There are several ways to fight DUI charges in South Carolina; and, even if you were driving drunk, you have defenses available. If necessary, your lawyer can work to negotiate a plea bargain that saves you from the life-altering consequences of having a DUI on your record.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have other options (such as entering into a diversion program) as well. To find out how you should approach your case, schedule an appointment with a DUI defense lawyer at DeLuca & Maucher today.

Schedule an Appointment with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Mount Pleasant or Goose Creek

Are you facing a DUI charge in the Charleston area? If so, we invite you to contact us for more information. To speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer at our Mount Pleasant or Goose Creek law offices in confidence, please call 843-572-1711 or request an appointment online today.