DUI Penalties – DUI Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

The potential penalties for a SC DUI conviction are based on the defendant’s blood alcohol content, whether the defendant has prior convictions for DUI, and whether anyone was injured or killed because of the defendant’s actions.

In addition to the potential for fines and prison time, however, there are many “collateral consequences” that police officers, prosecutors, judges, and even some attorneys may not tell you about before you decide to enter a guilty plea.

What are the potential penalties for a SC DUI conviction and what are the other consequences that you should know about?

How Much Prison Time Can I Get for a DUI Conviction in SC?

All SC DUI offenses carry mandatory minimum prison sentences – for a first offense DUI, community service can be substituted for the mandatory minimum sentence. After that, the court has no option other than to sentence a convicted DUI defendant to jail.

The penalties increase based on the number of prior convictions and the breathalyzer or blood test results – for a first offense with no breathalyzer result, there is a 48-hour mandatory minimum sentence and up to 30 days in jail.

At the other end of the spectrum, a fourth offense DUI or greater in SC with a breathalyzer result of .16 or greater carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence and up to seven years in prison.

How Much Prison Time Will I Get for a SC Felony DUI?

A felony DUI that results in great bodily injury has a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to 15 years in prison.

Felony DUI resulting in death has a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and up to 25 years in prison.

Because felony DUI cases resulting in death are often high-profile cases with negative media coverage, prosecutors and judges are less likely to recommend or impose light sentences in these cases. Probation is not an option, and, even following a guilty plea, defendants usually are given substantial prison sentences.

What are the Other Collateral Consequences for a SC DUI Conviction?

In addition to fines and prison terms, every DUI-related conviction in SC comes with other consequences that can be severe and long-lasting. For example:

  • License suspension: A DUI conviction always carries a license suspension that is consecutive to any implied consent suspension that has already been imposed;
  • ADSAP: After any DUI conviction or implied consent violation, you will be required to complete the alcohol and drug safety action program (ADSAP);
  • Ignition interlock: In many cases, a person who has been convicted of DUI will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle and submit to monitoring of the device by the probation department;
  • SR-22 insurance: After any DUI conviction, at the end of the suspension period, the driver will need to obtain what is commonly called SR-22 insurance, which is expensive, and maintain the SR-22 coverage for a period of at least three years; and
  • Habitual traffic offender status: If you have three or more serious traffic offenses, which includes DUI, DUAC, driving under suspension (DUS), or reckless driving, within a three-year period, the SC DMV will declare you a “habitual offender” and revoke your license for a period of five years.

Can I Get My DUI Conviction Expunged in SC?


DUI is considered a traffic offense as well as a criminal offense in SC, and traffic offenses cannot be expunged. If you are convicted of DUI, it will remain on your criminal record forever – this is one reason why you need to retain an experienced DUI defense lawyer immediately after your arrest to minimize the odds of your arrest becoming a conviction…

SC DUI Defense Attorney in Charleston

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) or felony DUI in the Charleston, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach areas of Eastern SC, call Charleston, SC DUI defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.