Police charge more than 4 million Americans for DUIs each year. DUI charges are unfortunately common and have lasting life impacts.

But how long does a DUI stay on your record? What other information should you know before moving forward?

In this article, we’ll be discussing what a DUI means in South Carolina and how long it’ll remain on your record down the line.

What Defines a DUI in South Carolina?

South Carolina states that if you have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, you are under the influence.

A DUI is also defined as being under the influence of any drug, alcohol, or other intoxicant. If your BAC is at least 0.05 but under 0.08 percent, it’s evidence that you’re under the influence.

Those charged with a DUI usually face a fine, driver’s license suspension, and community service. If you don’t have any prior convictions from the past 10 years, a DUI will count as a first offense.


Those BAC levels are important to know when looking at penalties for driving while intoxicated in South Carolina.

If you’re at or below 0.08 percent, you’ll most likely get a DUI charge. This means the officer had enough reason to charge you with a DUI. Chances are, the officer saw you exhibiting signs of intoxication.

If your BAC is higher than 0.08 percent, that’s when you’ll face a DUAC charge, which stands for “Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration.” DUAC charges occur after proper alcohol testing.

If you’re tested within two hours of a police encounter, you can get a DUAC charge.

Penalties for DUI in South Carolina

So what happens when you’re charged with DUI? Here are some of the most common penalties:

Jail Time

If this is your first offense, a typical jail sentence lasts about 48 hours but can extend to 30 days. If your BAC was between 10% and 16%, the minimum sentence is extended to seven days.

Judges often allow an equal amount of community service instead of jail time.

Fines and Suspension

For first-time offenders, you’ll face a $400 minimum fine and a six-month license suspension. A second offense will land you a fine of $2,100 to $5,100, along with a year-long license suspension.

Third-time offenders get between $3,800 and $6,300 and a two-year license suspension. The length of the suspension depends on how much time has passed between your second and third offenses.

One to five-year prison sentences is usually carried out for fourth and fifth-time offenders.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

If you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, unfortunately, that will stay on your criminal record forever. It can, however, be removed from your driving record after 10 years.

What does that actually mean for your future? Let’s take a look at some of those factors here:

How Does This Affect Me in the Long Term?

If you have a DUI conviction on your record, getting auto insurance will become more difficult. If you have prior business with an insurance company, your premiums will go up.

All of this will last for at least 3 years and up to 5. Some insurance companies have “assigned risk” insurance for people that have DUIs on their records. You’ll get coverage but at a high premium.

DUIs also affect the outcome of your background checks. Employers, landlords, and security agencies might judge your character based on a DUI charge.

As such, DUIs can serve as unwanted baggage for many people. It affects their job prospects as well as their insurance coverage.

Can My DUI Transfer Across State Lines?

If you move to another state, your DUI charge will be transferred to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your new home state.

South Carolina is a member of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. This means states agree to exchange drivers’ information when they’re convicted of a DUI.

Different states also have different penalties for DUIs as well. This means you might face different penalties with a South Carolina DUI in another state.

How to Avoid Getting a DUI

It’s safe to say that getting a DUI in South Carolina does you no favors even if you no longer live in the state.

The best way to avoid DUIs is to get a designated driver or call a cab after having a few drinks. In emergencies, however, remember that an arrest isn’t automatically a conviction.

In other words, you have other defenses at your disposal:

Unlawful Arrest

An officer needs a legal cause to pull you over for a traffic stop. If you can prove that an officer had no legal right to arrest or detain you, this can be cited as a violation of your rights.

Lower BAC

If your BAC is lower than 0.08, this can be evidence to challenge the charge. Furthermore, if you were showing no signs of intoxication, you can also use that to your defense.

Unrecorded Arrest

Officers in South Carolina must use a dashcam to record your DUI incident. If they fail to do so, it can weaken the prosecutor’s case.

How a DUI Lawyer Can Help

At the end of the day, you need a DUI lawyer to help make your case. To avoid a DUI conviction, a DUI attorney is the best person to contact.

They can record your evidence and help gather the right documents. They’ll make sure the officer followed the mandatory procedures and that all tests were administered correctly.

DUI lawyers help make your case that you shouldn’t be charged for a DUI.

Get the Best DUI Lawyer in South Carolina

DUIs impact your life even after a first offense. Having the right people on your side when a DUI charge is imminent is crucial for your future.

Use this guide to answer the question “how long does a DUI stay on your record” and find the right DUI lawyer in your area.

Looking for reliable attorneys in South Carolina? Contact us today and we can get you started on your case.

Aaron De Bruin

Aaron De Bruin is an Estate Planning and Criminal Defense attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Aaron fights for the rights of every one of his clients works hard to make sure they are treated fairly – no matter how small or large a legal case may be.