South Carolina DUI Criminal Defense Lawyer

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

Arm Yourself with Knowledge to Protect Your Legal Rights

A charge of DUI in South Carolina can result in jail time and the loss of your freedom, so it is important that you have a thorough understanding of these charges and that you work closely with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer who can explain everything that you need to know about DUI charges in South Carolina. The Woods Law Firm will build a strong defense against these charges and will protect your rights during this difficult time. We have worked on many DUI cases just like yours. An experienced attorney will understand and answer all the questions that you have about your charges. Some of the most common questions about DUI charges in South Carolina are answered below.

What Is the Legal Definition of DUI in South Carolina?

There are two important areas of South Carolina law that pertain to driving under the influence, S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2933 and S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2930. S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2933 is what most people think of with drinking and driving. It makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. However, many people do not realize that there is another type of DUI offense, which is covered under S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2933. According to this law, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of them that materially and appreciably impairs your faculties to drive a vehicle. So, even if your BAC is below 0.08%, you may still be charged with DUI in SC if your driving ability is affected by your drinking or drug intake.

Another important law regarding DUI arrests in South Carolina is the so-called “implied consent” law. S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2950 says that any person who drives in the state has given consent to breath, blood or urine tests to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs if arrested for DUI. If you refuse to take one of these tests, you can face the loss of your driving privilege

What Are the Penalties for a DUI in South Carolina?

The penalties for a DUI in South Carolina depend on how many times you have been convicted for the offense and your BAC. In addition to court costs, fees, and assessments, expected penalties are as follows:

First Offense

  • .08% BAC or lower – A fine up to $4oo or imprisonment for at least 48 hours, up to 30 days
  • .10% BAC to less than .16% BAC – A $500 fine or imprisonment for at least 72 hours, up to 30 days
  • .16% BAC or more – A fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for at least 30 days, up to 90 days, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for one year

Second Offense

  • .08% BAC or lower – A fine between $2,100 to $5,100 or imprisonment for at least 5 days, up to one year, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for two years
  • .10% BAC to less than .16% BAC – A $2,500 to $5,500 fine or imprisonment for at least 30 days, up to two years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for two years
  • .16% BAC or more – A fine of $3,500 to $6,500 or imprisonment for at least 90 days, up to three years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for two years

 Third Offense

  • .08% BAC or lower – A fine of $3,800 to $6,300 or imprisonment for at least 60 days, up to three years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for three years
  • .10% BAC to less than .16% BAC – A $5,000 to $7,500 fine or imprisonment for at least 90 days, up to four years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for three years
  • .16% BAC or more – A fine of $7,5000 to $10,000 or imprisonment for at least 180 days, up to four years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for three years

 Fourth or Subsequent Offense

  • .08% BAC or lower – Jail time for at least one year, up to five years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for your lifetime
  • .10% BAC to less than .16% BAC – Imprisonment for at least two years, up to six years, requirement to install an ignition interlock device for your lifetime
  • .16% BAC or more – Imprisonment for at least three years, up to seven years , requirement to install an ignition interlock device for your lifetime

Other Notes on Penalties

South Carolina consists of 46 counties with Greenville, Richland and Charleston Counties being the largest ones in the state. Current rules require magistrate and municipal courts to try DUI cases within 120 days of the arrest or 60 days if the defendant does not request a jury trial.

Where Will My DUI Case Be Tried?

South Carolina consists of 46 counties with Greenville, Richland and Charleston Counties being the largest ones in the state. Current rules require magistrate and municipal courts to try DUI cases within 120 days of the arrest or 60 days if the defendant does not request a jury trial.

What Counties Does the Woods Law Firm Serve?

More than 300 magistrate judges currently serve in South Carolina. Our attorneys handle cases in ALL 46 counties in South Carolina, including municipal and magistrate courts. We also practice before General Sessions Courts when the case involves a felony. 

The main courthouses that deal with DUI cases for the major South Carolina counties are listed below.

Greenville Municipal Court
426 N. Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Phone: (864) 467-6650
List of Greenville County Municipal Judges
Court Clerk: Pam Larson
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Greenville Magistrate Court Map

Richland County Magistrate Court
Central Court
2500 Decker Blvd.
Columbia, SC 29206
Phone: (803) 576-2300
Judge: Benjamin Franklin Byrd
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Upper Township Magistrate
400 Northeast Dr. Suite I
Columbia, SC 29203
Phone: (803) 576-2570
Chief Magistrate: Judge Tomothy Clinton Edward
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Charleston Municipal Court
180 Lockwood Blvd.
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: (843) 724-7460
List of Charleston Municipal Court Judges
Court Director: Lakesiya L. Cofield
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Charleston County Magistrate Courts
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, Suite B143
North Charleston, SC 29405
Phone: (843) 202-6600
List of Charleston County Magistrates
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What Are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction in South Carolina?

In addition to the possibility of facing imprisonment, hefty fines, fees, court costs and assessments, conviction of a DUI can cause many other negative consequences on your life. DUI convictions are not eligible for expungement in South Carolina, so if you have a conviction for one, you will have a lifelong criminal record. Employers, rental units, creditors and others may be able to find this information about you. A conviction can interfere with your ability to keep your job, get a job, retain legal immigration status in the United States, and be approved for housing and other benefits. Having a criminal record can negatively impact your reputation. Additionally, you will face much higher insurance rates and be required to carry expensive SR-22 insurance after a conviction.

Because the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in South Carolina are so severe, it is critical that you have a strong legal team on your side who can mount the best criminal defense for your case.

What Are the Defenses to DUI Charges in SC?

Individuals who are accused of drinking and driving in South Carolina have certain rights that must be respected and defenses that apply to their case. Our lead attorney Freddy Woods, associate attorneys and excellent support staff thoroughly review your case to identify the applicable defenses. We can argue defenses such as:

Individuals who are accused of drinking and driving in South Carolina have certain rights that must be respected and defenses that apply to their case. Our lead attorney Freddy Woods, associate attorneys and excellent support staff thoroughly review your case to identify the applicable defenses. We can argue defenses such as:

The Arrest Was Not Legal

You can lodge a defense based on an illegal arrest if the law enforcement officer did not follow proper procedures, such as:

  • Having a legitimate reason to pull you over at the beginning of the stop
  • Using a video camera from the moment the officer stopped you
  • Administering field sobriety tests properly
  • Reading you the implied consent notice
  • Reading you Miranda rights

Give us specific details about your arrest and the circumstances surrounding it so that we can identify any clear violations of the law.

You Were Not Impaired

For cases involving a BAC of less than 0.08%, the prosecution must prove by proof beyond a reasonable doubt that your faculties were “materially and appreciably impaired.” So, even if law enforcement stops you after having a drink or two, you will not necessarily be convicted.

Video Evidence Establishes a Defense

As stated previously, South Carolina law requires law enforcement officers to videotape DUI stops unless exigent circumstances are present. The video must include the following:

  • A reading of the implied consent warning
  • Checking of your mouth
  • Waiting 20 minutes
  • Informing you that the breath test will be video recorded
  • Administering the breath test
  • Informing you that you can refuse the breath test
  • A reading of the Miranda rights

If the law enforcement officer failed to video record all of these events, our knowledgeable lawyers will work to dismiss the charges against you.

The Test Was Not Accurate

Breathalyzer tests are prone to error. They must be calibrated on a routine basis. The person administering the test must be trained on proper testing procedures. Blood samples can get mixed up. Any of these factors can serve as a valid defense in your DUI case. The following factors can challenge the credibility of the test results:

  • There was time between the arrest and the testing when your BAC may have been increasing
  • The person who gave you the test or took your blood or urine samples was not qualified under South Carolina law
  • The Breathalyzer machine was not properly calibrated, was not working properly or was defective
  • There was a break in the chain of custody of your test results

Will I Still Be Able to Drive if I Am Arrested for DUI?

Your driver’s license can be suspended for 1 to 15 months for failing a breath test or refusing to take one in violation of the implied consent law. The length of your suspension depends on your offense and the number of previous DUI offenses you have been convicted of within the last ten years. However, you can request an administrative hearing to fight the loss of your driving privileges, which is a separate proceeding from your criminal case. If you win at the administrative hearing, your license suspension will end. You can apply for a Temporary Alcohol License while your administrative case is pending. However, if you don’t win at the hearing, your suspension will resume.

An experienced lawyer may help you apply for a “route restricted license” that will allow you to drive during your period of suspension to certain vital locations like work and school.

If your license was suspended because you violated the implied consent law, you can choose to install an ignition interlock device and apply for an IID restricted license.

How Can the Woods Law Firm Prepare a Defense for Your South Carolina DUI Case?

Here at the Woods Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge of DUI laws and defenses. We are ready and able to protect your legal rights. With over 24 years of legal experience and three conveniently-located offices throughout the state, we can meet with you and discuss your case at your convenience. We are also available via text or email. Our excellent staff and attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and your freedom. If you need immediate help but don’t know where to turn, trust the lawyers at the Woods Law Firm to quickly answer your questions and get to work immediately on your case. Call an attorney from our firm personally at (843) 810-0384, schedule an appointment with our office staff at (864) 298-8111,  or by completing the online contact form.