DUI Insurance Laws for South Carolina

Your first DUI conviction in SC is a misdemeanor, punishable by a six-month suspension, up to $1,000 in fines, and jail time. Three years of SR-22 insurance are mandatory.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 30, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Drinking and driving carries a costly penalty in South Carolina
  • You can be pulled over for erratic driving
  • South Carolina operates under “implied consent” so by driving on the roads, you consent to DUI testing
  • A DUI will stay on your record forever in South Carolina and will greatly affect your car insurance rates


Drinking and driving is a serious offense and can become costly. South Carolina takes the DUI law seriously and the state’s driving under the influence laws are strict and can create difficulties for a driver for several years after arrest.

The legal blood alcohol content for driving under the influence is 0.08 percent and a driver does not have to show signs of being impaired when driving to be arrested.

Knowing the law is the best way to avoid being pulled over under suspicion or arrested for drunk driving. Don’t drink and drive and your car insurance will not rise!

If you do find your car insurance rising, enter your ZIP code above and compare car insurance companies INSTANTLY!

Things to Know

South Carolina law operates within the implied consent law which means when a person applies for a driver’s license in the state, they consent to chemical testing when an officer stops them under the suspicion of driving under the influence.

The state of South Carolina is part of the interstate driver’s license compact with other states. This compact is an agreement between other states that participate that allows states to work together.

South Carolina utilizes a look back period into a driver’s record. Driving under the influence convictions are never erased from a driver’s record.

The state will look back over the last ten years into the driver’s records, even in other states.

The state requires a convicted driver to file for an SR-22 insurance certificate. This insurance will cost considerably more than ordinary auto insurance.

The certificate must be carried for three years. SR-22 insurance is high-risk car insurance and proves to the state that the driver is insured for the proper liability amounts.

Convicted drivers must enroll into a state-mandated alcohol and drug safety program. The program costs $500.00 to complete and could take up to twelve months.

If a driver does not enroll into the program they will not be allowed to get their driver’s license reinstated.

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Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence

The following are some things an officer might do when he suspects you are driving under the influence:

  • If an officer observes a driver driving erratically he has the right to pull the person over to evaluate them. Driving too slow or cautiously, crossing the white line, or weaving between lanes wide are some of the situations where an officer will pull a driver over
  • The officer will conduct a standardized field sobriety test. South Carolina mandates that a driver submits to chemical testing per the implied consent law. If a driver refuses, the officer will explain the penalties for refusal and then ask the driver again to submit to the test
  • South Carolina has a mandatory videotaping law in place. When an officer has pulled a driver over under suspicion of driving under the influence, the field sobriety and chemical tests must be videotaped as well as the actual arrest

Driving Under the Influence Penalties in South Carolina

The first DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor.

A driver convicted of driving under the influence will face several penalties when their blood alcohol content ranges from 0.08 percent to 0.16 percent or higher.

  • Six-month license suspension
  • A fine of $400.00 to $1000.00, depending on the level of the driver’s blood alcohol content, will be assessed or jail time
  • There could be 48 hours or up to 90 days of jail time. Forty-eight hours and up to 30 days of community service can be allocated in place of the jail time in some situations
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug safety program enrollment
  • Must carry SR-22 insurance certificate for three years that will cause insurance rates to increase

The second DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor and will result in strict penalties for a second time convicted driver with blood alcohol contents ranging from 0.08 percent to 0.16 percent or higher.

  • One year license suspension
  • A fine of $2,100.00 to $6,500.00, depending on the level of the driver’s blood alcohol content
  • Five days to three years of jail time
  • Two years ignition interlock restriction after the driver’s license has been reinstated following the suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug safety program enrollment
  • Must carry SR-22 insurance certificate for three years that will cause insurance rates to increase

A third DUI conviction is still considered a misdemeanor and the penalties are high and costly.

A driver convicted of driving under the influence for the third time will face harsh penalties when their blood alcohol content ranges from 0.08 percent to 0.16 percent or higher.

  • Two years license suspension
  • A fine of $3,800.00 to $10,000.00, depending on the level of the driver’s blood alcohol content
  • Sixty days to Five years of jail time
  • Three years ignition interlock restriction after the driver’s license has been reinstated following the suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug safety program enrollment
  • Must carry SR-22 insurance certificate for three years that will cause insurance rates to increase

A driver that has been convicted four times or more with driving under the influence faces a felony charge.

If a driver is convicted for the fourth or subsequent time driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content ranging from 0.08 percent to 0.16  percent they will face:

  • Lifetime license revocation. A driver may petition for reinstatement with the circuit court after seven years
  • A fine up to $25,000, depending on the level of the driver’s blood alcohol content
  • One to Seven years of jail time
  • Lifetime ignition interlock restriction if the driver’s license is reinstated after seven years following revocation
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug safety program enrollmen
  • Must carry SR-22 certificate for three years that will cause insurance rates to increase

Finding Insurance Quotes in South Carolina

Getting behind the wheel of a car even after a couple of drinks can land a resident of South Carolina in jail.

The laws are put in place to keep all driver’s safe on the road and a person suspected of drunk driving will be arrested and go to jail.

Driving under the influence can result in great expense, embarrassment and years of difficulties for a person.

This can be avoided, but if found in this situation, knowing what lies ahead may make the process easier to navigate.

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