Can you get a DUI on Private Property in South Carolina

Can you get a DUI on Private property?

Every now and then I get a call that asks can you get a DUI on private property in South Carolina.  There is a misconception that because you are on a private road, whether it is yours or someone else’s, then you cannot be arrested for DUI.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is YES, you can be arrested on a private road for DUI in South Carolina.  Under South Carolina law there is no “private property” exception that prohibits you from being prosecuted for DUI.  The police will still have to go through the same analysis to prove their case that you were “materially and appreciably impaired,” either from the effects of alcohol or drugs. But you can be arrested and convicted for driving under the influence on private property.

This issue has been challenged before the courts and the South Carolina Supreme Court held in State v. Allen that Section 56-5-2930 makes it unlawful for any person under the influence of intoxicating liquor “to drive any vehicle within this State.”  The court rated that the DUI statute by its terms is not limited to public highways but applies anywhere within our State boundaries.  Since § 59-5-2930 specifies enforceability “within this State,” it is not limited to public highways and furthermore is automatically applicable to private roads.  The facts in solved in that case was a defendant at a friends property and they were drinking beer.  The defendant’s friend was having difficulties with his pick up truck so the defendant offered to help.  When he tried to move the vehicle in the driveway the gear slipped and the truck jumped forward into a storage building.  EMS and police were called and the police asked the defendant to perform a field sobriety test and was placed under arrest for DUI.

A driver can be ticketed and prosecuted for misdemeanor DUI even though all of the driving takes place on private property.  There is no “private property” exception for DUI in South Carolina.  If the police can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle was “materially and appreciably impaired” by excessive alcohol, it does not matter whether the driving was on private property or not.   In South Carolina, law enforcement officers have the legal right to investigate and arrest for DUI even if it occurs on private property.

Charleston DUI Attorney

If you are facing a DUI charge contact a Charleston DUI attorney to fight your DUI arrest.  The Dale Savage Law Firm offers free consultations on DUI cases.  Call today at (843) 530-7813.

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