Is a South Carolina DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony?

At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina criminal defense lawyers know that being arrested for a DUI — even a first-time DUI — can change our clients’ lives.

In South Carolina, the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is .08% for drivers who are 21 years of age or older, .04% for commercial vehicle drivers, and .02% for drivers under 21 years old.  However, officers can pursue a DUI for a BAC greater than .06%, if they believe the driver’s ability to safely operate the motor vehicle is impaired by the lower amount of alcohol.

When these limits are surpassed, and a driver is stopped by the police during a traffic stop or roadblock, and arrested for driving under the influence, their first or second offense is typically a misdemeanor if there were no aggravating circumstances associated with the arrest.

Unfortunately, even as a misdemeanor, a conviction can lead to a suspended driver’s license, with only 30 days to request a hearing for a provisional license, expensive SR-22 insurance, which will be required for reinstatement of your license, community service, extensive fines, required drug and alcohol education, assessment, and treatment, a mandatory ignition interlock device, and even jail time from 48 hours up to 1 year.

With each additional DUI conviction, the penalties also increase. The bigger question becomes, when does a misdemeanor DUI become a felony DUI in South Carolina? We have answers.

When Does a Misdemeanor DUI Become a Felony DUI In South Carolina?

If a driver is 21 or older, and arrested for a DUI, the first offense is frequently considered a misdemeanor in South Carolina. A second DUI offense could result in increased penalties but is still typically considered a misdemeanor.

However, if a person was driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, and their negligent actions behind the wheel caused great bodily injury or death to a person other than the driver, he or she will be charged with a felony DUI.

The penalties for a felony DUI in South Carolina include:

  • A mandatory fine of $5,100 to $10,100 and mandatory imprisonment from 30 days to 15 years when great bodily injury occurs.
  • A mandatory fine of $10,100 to $25,100 and mandatory imprisonment from one to 25 years when death occurs.

Multiple scenarios that include bodily harm or death can lead to felony DUI charges in South Carolina. No matter how your DUI arrest occurred, whether it was a traffic stop or after a collision, neither misdemeanor nor felony DUIs can be expunged from your driving or criminal record later.

Your best course of legal action is to partner with a skilled South Carolina criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid a conviction from the start, so your permanent record is not marred by a single mistake.

Contact our South Carolina DUI criminal defense attorneys by calling (803) 548-2468 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation and ensure your best interests and your future are protected from the start.

Read More
What Happens When You Get Arrested For A Dui In South Carolina?


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