A DUI arrest is one of the most well-known charges of all criminal offenses.  Whenever an actor, politician, police officer or any high profile person is arrested for DUI their face and arrest is typically all over the news.  However, what isn’t known by most unless you’re a lawyer or in law enforcement is the serious implications and collateral consequences associated with these convictions and the mine field that SC DUI Laws takes once you’ve been arrested.

If you’re drivers license is suspended from a DUI in South Carolina then you certainly become aware of the immediate impact this can have on your life. Then there’s the concern of will I go to jail, will I have a criminal record (if convicted then yes and it cannot be expunged, it’s there for life), where do I begin.  To get the help you need talk to an experienced Charleston DUI attorney. The information below will show you how complicated the process can be.

Where do I begin?

The arrest?

Under SC DUI laws, you can be charged with DUI while driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or both) to the extent that a person’s faculties are materially and appreciably impaired.

DUI cases are unique because you have to deal with your license suspension (an administrative process) and the criminal charge (criminal court).

Administrative Process

If your license has been suspended whether it from the arrest or a conviction you will have to deal with the DMV administrative process if you want to obtain a driver’s license.

License Suspension

If you refused to provide a breathe sample or provided a sample higher than 0.15% after your arrest then your license was suspended following your arrest.  This is called the implied consent law for refusals meaning that by having a driver’s license in this state you consent to taking a breath test, failure to do so results in the automatic immediate suspension.  A refusal suspension is added to the suspension time that you receive if you are convicted under SC DUI Laws.

A DUI conviction automatically suspends your drivers license and the period of suspension depends on the BAC level and any prior offenses for DUI.

Length of suspension depends on your BAC level and prior offenses.

Refusal = automatic six (6) month suspension.

1st offense BAC under 0.15% = can be suspended for six (6) months.

2nd offense BAC under 0.15% = suspension can be indefinite pending completion of interlock device program.

3rd offense BAC under 0.15% = suspension can be indefinite pending completion of interlock device program.

4th offense DUI under 0.15% = suspension can be indefinite pending completion of interlock device program.

Administrative Hearings

If you refused to provide a breath sample or you provided a sample greater that 0.15% your license will be suspended immediately in the State of South Carolina.  The breath test operator will provide you with a blue notice of suspension.  This is one of the first and most critical documents in your DUI case.  You will have 30 days from the date of suspension to request an administrative hearing with the SC Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings.  Requesting this hearing is twofold.  First, it gives you a chance to challenge the suspension of your license ($200) and secondly, once you receive notice of the hearing, you can request a temporary alcohol license ($100).

Temporary Alcohol Restricted Licenses (TARL)

A Temporary Alcohol Restricted License (TARL) allows you to drive any time of day or night in South Carolina while you the results of your administrative hearing are pending or for up to 6 months.  There are certain requirements that must be met to qualify for a TARL:

  • Must have a SC driver’s license;
  • Have no other suspensions;
  • BAC level of 0.15% or higher;
  • $100 fee to the DMV

If your suspension is sustained (you lost the administrative hearing) you must return your TARL and may be eligible for a Route Restricted License.  If you win the administrative hearing then return your TARL and apply for your regular license.


There are two main driving under the influence laws (excluding felony DUI) that you will typically have to deal with when arrested under SC DU Laws.  The penalties are almost the same but the proof required for each charge is different.  A DUAC simply requires the prosecutor to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher.  A DUI conviction does not solely rely on your BAC level but rather that you were “materially and appreciably impaired” to drive while under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.  The suspensions and fines for both charges are the same and both require you to enroll in ADSAP and to carry SR-22 insurance.

Provisional Driver’s Licenses After Conviction

If your driving privileges are suspended for first offense driving under the influence (DUI) or an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), you may be eligible for a six month provisional driver’s license as long as you meet all of these requirements, based on when the violation happened.

  • Must have had a valid SC driver’s license;
  • Met all requirements for prior suspensions;
  • Must have had a BAC level of 0.14% or less;
  • Must be enrolled in ADSAP;
  • SR-22 insurance;
  • $100 fee for a provisional license.

Route Restricted Driver’s License

If you are not a US citizen, you are not eligible for this license unless you have permanent resident alien status.

If you receive a Route Restricted license, you may drive a regular, non-commercial vehicle during the activities below:

  • From work or school
  • During work or school
  • To and from an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP)
  • To and from a court-ordered drug program

Your Route Restricted license is valid for the length of the suspension.

You may only receive one Route Restricted license once in your lifetime.

Charleston, SC DUI Attorney

Ready for your Free Consultation, call today (843) 530-7813.  You will speak directly with a Charleston criminal defense attorney about your case and get the answers you need to help understand SC DUI Laws.

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