DUI Defense

Driving Under the Influence

DUI: Driving Under the Influence in South Carolina

DUI in South Carolina is an extremely serious charge.  There are many collateral consequences to a DUI conviction besides jail time and fines.  Your license may also be suspended under certain conditions before you are even convicted.  Not only could you have to go to Magistrate Court for your DUI charge, but you will also have potential issues with the DMV.

Daniel has both prosecuted DUIs in South Carolina as well as presided over DUI cases in Magistrate Court.  He has seen first hand how serious these charges are and the negative effect they can have on someone's life.

Daniel recently wrote the second edition of his book "Deconstructing the DUI."  In this book he discusses the legal issues that arise with any DUI.  Whether it is the breath test or implied consent, "Deconstructing the DUI" takes readers inside the beginning and end of a DUI prosecution.

Daniel has also taught DUI in Magistrate Court as a CLE for the S.C. Bar.  This CLE explains to viewers how a DUI is handled in Magistrate Court and issues that can come up with the case.


Chart designed by Daniel Coble for SC Bar CLE

DUI Cover (2 Ed).JPG

Written by Daniel Coble

Deconstructing the DUI
Written by Daniel Coble

In 2018, Daniel Coble wrote Deconstructing the DUI. This guidebook describes the step by step process of a DUI charge in South Carolina.  The book explains how each statute works as well as case law that interprets these statutes.  This book was the process of years of handling DUIs both as a prosecutor and a Magistrate Judge.  

DUI cases are complicated and complex - Deconstructing the DUI was written to break down the process and take readers inside this legal area.

In 2021, Daniel updated his book with the Second Edition.  The new edition includes new case law from both the South Carolina Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.  DUI law is constantly changing and readers must be aware of all of the changes.

A DUI conviction carries severe penalties.  These can range from jail to fees and fines to license suspensions.  Even being merely arrested for a DUI carries the potential penalty of having your license suspended.  A conviction may also require you to carry a special insurance called SR-22.  This insurance is much more costly than regular car insurance.  

Whether someone is convicted by a jury of their peers or by a judge after a bench trial, the judge will impose sentencing.  The judge will consider many factors when determining what the sentence should be.  This could be prior criminal record, victim impact statements (if any), the State's input, the officer's input, and other mitigating factors.  But it is important to understand that the statute lays out specific penalties for convictions.

Penalties for DUI  in SC

DUI 1st

Under .10

  • $400 Fine; or

  • 48 hours – 30 days; or 48 hours public service

.10 - .16

  • $500 Fine; or

  • 72 hours – 30 days; or

  • 72 hours public service

Above .16

  • $1000 Fine; or

  • 30 days – 90 days; or

  • 30 days public service

DUI 2nd 

Under .10

  • $1,100 – $5,100 Fine; and

  • 5 days – 1 year;


.10 - .16

  • $1,100 – $5,500 Fine; and

  • 30 days – 2 years;


Above .16

  • $1,100 – $6,500 Fine; and

  • 90 days – 3 years;​

DUI 3rd

Under .10

  • $3,800 – $6,300 Fine; and

  • 60 days – 3 years;


.10 - .16

  • $5,000 – $7,500 Fine; and

  • 90 days – 4 years;


Above .16

  • $7,500 – $10,00 Fine; and

  • 6 months – 5 years;


DUI 4th or Subsequent

Under .10

  • 1 year – 5 years


.10 - .16

  • 2 years – 6 years


Above .16

  • 3 years – 7 years


It is against the law in South Carolina to drive when your blood level has risen to a level too high.  Normally, a DUI conviction requires showing that someone is not only impaired but that it materially and appreciably affected their faculties.  A DUAC on the other hand, makes it illegal to drive a motor vehicle when your blood level is .08 or higher.

SECTION 56-5-2933. Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration; penalties; enrollment in Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program; prosecution.(A) It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the offense of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration and, upon conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail must be punished as follows:

Implied Consent

Whenever a driver gets behind the wheel, they impliedly give their consent to be tested for drugs or alcohol if they are charged with DUI.  This is different than the breath test given for a DUI charge but they are still related.  A violation of the implied consent statute does not necessarily mean the case will be dismissed.  However, it could greatly affect how the case turns out and what evidence is admissible.

SECTION 56-5-2950. Implied consent to testing for alcohol or drugs; procedures; inference of DUI.
(A) A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person's breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

Field Sobriety Tests

A law enforcement officer will use field sobriety tests to help determine if a driver is impaired and whether they should be charged with DUI.  There are many different types of field sobriety tests and different procedures and requirements they must follow.  Law enforcement is also required to film these tests.  However, how much and what parts must be filmed are always greatly contested.

SECTION 56-5-2953. Incident site and breath test site video recording.
(A) A person who violates Section 56-5-2930, 56-5-2933, or 56-5-2945 must have his conduct at the incident site and the breath test site video recorded.
(1)(a) The video recording at the incident site must:
(i) not begin later than the activation of the officer's blue lights;
(ii) include any field sobriety tests administered; and
(iii) include the arrest of a person for a violation of Section 56-5-2930 or Section 56-5-2933, or a probable cause determination in that the person violated Section 56-5-2945, and show the person being advised of his Miranda rights.
(b) A refusal to take a field sobriety test does not constitute disobeying a police command.

Video Requirements

There are strict requirements when it comes to video recording a DUI arrest.  Law enforcement officers are required to video tape from the beginning to the end and also any field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests.  The arresting officer is also required to be the one who does the video recording.

License Suspensions

A DUI conviction or arrest can result in a driver's license being suspended.  There are different types of procedures to get this license back, but they require hearings and paperwork.  There are also different type of licenses a driver can get when their license is suspended, including a provisional license, temporary alcohol license, and restricted license.