How Much Does a DUI Cost?

April 27, 2024 | Alex Reid
How Much Does a DUI Cost?

If law enforcement recently arrested you or a loved one for a DUI in South Carolina, you may be feeling overwhelmed, scared, and uncertain about what the future holds.

One of the most pressing concerns for many individuals facing DUI charges is the potential financial burden. The cost of a DUI extends far beyond the initial fines and can have a long-lasting impact on your life. 

Read on to explore the various costs associated with a DUI in South Carolina. For specific advice about your case and to get the effective DUI defense representation you need, contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Greenville.

What Are the Blood Alcohol Limits (BAC) for DUI in South Carolina?

How Much Does a DUI Cost

In South Carolina, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is:

  • 0.08% or higher for drivers 21 years or older
  • 0.04% or higher for commercial drivers
  • 0.02% or higher for drivers under 21 years old

Even if your BAC does not reach these limits, an officer can still arrest you for a DUI if they determine you’re too impaired to drive safely. 

DUI Fines, Fees, and Court Costs in SC

The financial consequences of a DUI conviction can be substantial and vary depending on the number of prior offenses.

First-time offense

  • Fine: $400 to $1,000, depending on BAC
  • Court costs and fees: $1,000 or more
  • License reinstatement fee: $100

Second-time offense

  • Fine: $2,100 to $6,500, depending on BAC
  • Court costs and fees: $1,500 or more
  • License reinstatement fee: $100

Third-time offense

  • Fine: $3,800 to $10,000, depending on BAC
  • Court costs and fees: $2,000 or more
  • License reinstatement fee: $100

Four or more offenses

South Carolina doesn’t list fees for four or more DUI offenses. However, repeat violations can land you in jail for up to seven years. 

Felony DUI Fines and Consequences

You can face felony DUI charges in South Carolina if you cause a vehicle accident while intoxicated that injures or kills someone. Fines can range from $5,100 to $10,100 for an injury and up to $25,100 for a fatality. You could also face up to 15 to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Other Factors Affecting DUI Costs

Along with fines and court fees, several factors can influence the total cost of a DUI, including:

  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Alcohol education and treatment programs
  • Lost wages due to court appearances and jail time
  • Transportation costs (e.g., taxis or rideshares) if your license is suspended

The financial impact of a DUI begins immediately upon arrest. If taken into custody, you may need to post bail, which can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Additionally, if police tow and impound your vehicle, you must pay towing and storage fees, which can quickly add up.

Emma's Law and Ignition Interlock Devices

Under Emma's Law, certain DUI offenders in South Carolina must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles. An IID is a Breathalyzer connected to your car's ignition system. It prevents the vehicle from starting if your BAC is above a preset limit.

The costs associated with an IID include:

  • Installation fee: $70 to $150 or more
  • Monthly maintenance and calibration fees: $50-$100 or more
  • Removal fee: $50 or more

Along with the financial impacts of a DUI charge and conviction, many other legal consequences will add considerable costs:

  • Jail Time: Depending on the severity of the offense and the jurisdiction, a DUI conviction can result in jail time. First-time offenders may face a few days to several months in jail, while repeat offenders can face significantly longer sentences. Serving time in jail can lead to lost income and may jeopardize an individual's employment.
  • Probation: In some cases, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of, or in addition to, jail time. Probation can last for several months to a few years and often includes conditions such as regular check-ins with a probation officer, alcohol or drug treatment, and random drug testing. Violating probation can lead to additional fines and even jail time.
  • Community Service: As part of a DUI sentence, the court may require you to complete a specified number of community service hours. This can range from a few dozen to several hundred hours, depending on the severity of the offense and the jurisdiction.
  • DUI Education and Treatment Programs: The court may require you to attend mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs. These programs aim to educate offenders about the dangers of drunk driving and help them address any underlying substance abuse issues. The cost of these programs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • Criminal Record: A DUI conviction results in a criminal record that can have long-lasting consequences. This record can make it difficult to secure employment, housing, and educational opportunities in the future. In some cases, a DUI conviction can even lead to professional license suspension or revocation, jeopardizing an individual's career.

Personal and Social Consequences 

Additionally, a DUI conviction can have a considerable impact on your life, career, and social standing—as well as your mental health.

Some personal and social consequences of a DUI conviction include:

  • Reputation Damage: A DUI conviction can significantly damage your reputation within your community--among friends and family, and in professional circles. The stigma associated with a DUI can lead to strained relationships, loss of trust, and diminished social standing.
  • Employment Challenges: Many employers conduct background checks, and a DUI conviction can be a red flag that hinders job prospects. Some industries, such as transportation, healthcare, and education, may have strict policies against hiring individuals with DUI convictions. Additionally, a DUI may result in job termination, particularly if the individual's employment involves driving or if the conviction violates company policy.
  • Travel Restrictions: A DUI conviction can impact your ability to travel internationally. Some countries, such as Canada, may deny entry to those with a DUI on their record. This can limit personal and professional travel opportunities and may require additional legal steps to resolve.
  • Increased Time Commitments: Dealing with the aftermath of a DUI, including court appearances, probation check-ins, community service, and alcohol education or treatment programs, can be time-consuming. This increased time commitment can strain personal relationships, interfere with work obligations, and reduce leisure time.
  • Emotional and Psychological Toll: The stress, shame, and guilt associated with a DUI conviction can take a significant emotional and psychological toll. Individuals may experience anxiety, depression, and diminished self-esteem, which can impact their overall well-being and ability to move forward positively.

How You Can Minimize DUI Costs

While the costs of a DUI can be staggering and far-reaching, you can minimize the financial impact if you:

  1. Consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and potentially reduce your charges or penalties.
  2. Attend all required court appearances and complete any mandated alcohol education or treatment programs to avoid additional fines and fees.
  3. If your license is suspended, explore alternative transportation options, such as carpooling or public transit, to minimize the cost of taxis or rideshares.
  4. Consider the long-term financial implications of a DUI and make a commitment to avoid future offenses.

How an Attorney Can Help You

DUI Case

Hiring a skilled DUI attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case and the overall cost of your DUI.

An experienced DUI defense attorney can:

  • Review the evidence against you and challenge any irregularities or violations of your rights during the arrest process.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce your charges or penalties.
  • Represent you in court and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
  • Provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, helping you make informed decisions about your future.

One intangible benefit an attorney can offer is peace of mind. They can address your concerns and try to alleviate your worries. You can also rest easier knowing a dedicated legal professional is fighting for your rights and best interests to help you achieve the most favorable outcome possible.

South Carolina DUI FAQs

Will I Go to Jail for a First-time DUI offense?

In most cases, first-time DUI offenders in South Carolina face a minimum of 48 hours in jail, which can be waived for community service. However, the actual sentence depends on the specific circumstances of your case and your BAC level at the time of arrest.

How Many Points will a DUI Conviction cost on my license?

A DUI conviction in South Carolina will result in 6 points added to your driver's license. However, you may also face additional points if an officer charges you with reckless driving or another moving violation. The state will suspend your license when you accumulate 12 points.

Does a DUI Show up on Background Checks?

Yes, a DUI conviction will appear on your criminal record and may be visible on background checks conducted by potential employers, landlords, or other entities.

Can I Still Drive after a DUI Conviction?

If the state suspends your license due to a DUI conviction, you cannot drive legally during the suspension period. However, you may receive a provisional or restricted license that allows you to drive to work, school, or alcohol treatment programs.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Today

A DUI conviction in South Carolina can come with a hefty price tag, both financially and personally. Between fines, court costs, attorney fees, and increased insurance premiums, the true cost of a DUI can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars. 

However, you don't have to face these challenges alone. At Fedalei & Reid Law, LLC, our dedicated team of DUI attorneys is here to help you navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and minimize the impact of a DUI on your life.

If you or a loved one faces DUI charges in South Carolina, don't wait – contact Fedalei & Reid Law, LLC today for a free consultation and take the first step toward securing your future.

Alex Reid Author Image

Alex Reid

Attorney, Founding Partner

Alex Reid has been practicing law in South Carolina since 2019. During his tenure as Assistant Public Defender he has represented clients on a multitude of criminal defense cases, from the smallest drug possession to the most serious violent crimes. Alex became a lawyer for one simple reason, to help people and fight unyieldingly for their rights.

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