DUI License Suspension in South Carolina

You are driving down the road in South Carolina. You are pulled over by a police officer for whatever reason. Were you speeding? Is one of your headlights out? Maybe you were swerving. Nevertheless, you are now asked to take a breathalyzer test because the police officer is under the assumption you have been drinking alcohol.

First-DUI-License-Suspension.jpg

Refusing a Breathalyzer

 

You do have the right to refuse. Perhaps you feel as though your rights were violated. In another situation, maybe you were indeed drinking but do not want to criminalize yourself.

 

Refusal to take a breathalyzer test is not against the law. However, it does come with consequences. Before you make this decision, there are few things you should know.

 

The South Carolina Implied Consent Proceeding details that, as a driver of a motor vehicle, you must give consent to chemical tests for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content level if you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended for anywhere from one month to nine months.

 

You will receive paperwork detailing how you can get your license back. Generally, you have 30 days to request a hearing for reinstatement. During the time while you wait for your day in court, your license is still good. If you miss the deadline for a hearing, then your suspension will be effective immediately.  

 

Charged with a DUI / DUAC

 

If you do not pass your breathalyzer test, you may be charged with a DUI or DUAC.

 

According to Section 56-5-2930, “In South Carolina, it is unlawful for you to drive a motor vehicle while (1) under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired; (2) under the influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired; or (3) under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.”

 

A DUAC is known as Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. According to Section 56-5-2933 “ It is also unlawful for you to drive a motor vehicle within South Carolina while your alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more (regardless of whether your faculties are impaired).  DUAC is sometimes known as a per se DUI.”

 

Sentencing and Penalties

 

Your conviction of a DUI or DUAC comes with the same penalties. However, if you are penalized because you refused to take a breathalyzer test then you will be subject to the following:


SOUTH CAROLINA IMPLIED CONSENT LICENSE SUSPENSION CHART
(for persons 21 years and older)

INCIDENT BAC 0.14% or less BAC 0.15% or more REFUSAL TO SUBMIT
No priors in past 10 years None 1 month 6 months
1 prior in past 10 years None 2 months 9 months
2 priors in past 10 years None 3 months 12 months
3 priors in past 10 years None 4 months 15 months

 

Your driver’s license will be suspended, but you can challenge your suspension if you request a hearing within 30 days of your arrest.

If you are convicted of a DUI or DUAC, you will be subject to similar license penalties for at least six months or more depending on your criminal record history. The following details the suspension:


SOUTH CAROLINA DUI / DUAC CONVICTION DRIVER LICENSE SUSPENSION CHART

FIRST OFFENSE
(w/in past 10 years)
Six Month Suspension
SECOND OFFENSE
(w/in past 10 years)
One Year Suspension
THIRD OFFENSE
(w/in past 10 years)
Two to Four Year Suspension
FOURTH OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE
(w/in past 10 years)
Permanent Revocation
If your third DUI or DUAC conviction occurs within five years from the second offense conviction, then your license will be suspended for four years rather than two years.
If you are not a resident of South Carolina, and your driver’s license is issued in another state, you may still get your license suspended. If you were charged with a DUI or DUAC in South Carolina, the police officers only have the authority to suspend driving privileges in South Carolina.
However, 45 states follow the Driver License Compact, which means South Carolina will report a DUI or DUAC conviction to the driver’s home state if your home state participates in the agreement. In that case, your home state will most likely follow up by suspending your license for the charge. South Carolina participates in this agreement if you are driving outside of South Carolina and are charged with a DUI or DUAC. When you return home, your license will be suspended.

  

Driving without a License

 

You need to be aware that your driver’s license can also be suspended or revoked for other reasons besides DUI and DUAC charges. Failing to pay tickets, operating uninsured, reckless driving, and other situations may put your license in jeopardy.

 

If you are caught driving on a suspended or revoked license, you will be charged with more penalties. These may include, but are not limited to fines, jail time, and addition license suspension. Driving without a license is a crime in itself.

If you must drive for work and other related reasons, you may be eligible for a provisional driver’s license. If this is your first DUI or DUAC offense, you must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

 

  • Have or had a valid South Carolina driver’s license
  • Have no other suspensions other than an implied consent suspension related to the same incident
  • Be enrolled in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program
  • File a special SR-22 insurance with the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Pay a $100 fee

 

Hiring a Lawyer

 

If you refused a breathalyzer test or were charged with a DUI or DUAC, you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in court. You can also discuss with your lawyer whether or not you are eligible for a provisional driver’s license.

 

 

 

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