What happens if you get a DUI in SC?

pulled over for DUIDavid Tarr is an experienced DUI Lawyer in Columbia SC. He knows what questions to ask when you’ve been charged with DUI in SC. He also knows that listening to your answers is the best route to a successful defense. He understands that the facts and circumstances of your case are unique, and he wants to hear the details. Depending on the specifics of your case, it may be possible to have your sentence reduced or even thrown out.

Client Review

David Tarr is an A+ lawyer and will work with you to get what you need done. I recommend him for anybody with a DUI/simple possession, he works hard and will put you before himself. Thanks David!

Richard C.

DUI Defense for all aspects of a DUI Charge

David Tarr understands those feelings of fear, helplessness, and panic that set in after a DUI arrest. He gets the chaos a DUI or DWI charge can create in your life. For most clients, anxiety sets in the moment they're pulled over. He’ll patiently walk with you through each step of the legal process so you're ready for whatever comes next. He understands that the consequences of a DUI in South Carolina depend on the unique facts of each case.

The Law Office of David B. Tarr will review your DUI arrest for issues such as:

  • whether the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over;
  • whether the arresting officer properly administered the field sobriety test;
  • whether the breathalyzer test is potentially inaccurate.

We take great care in reviewing your case to determine if there are grounds to dismiss the charges against you.

With over twenty years as a DUI lawyer in Columbia, David has experience with all aspects of a DUI charge:

  • DUI administrative hearings. In addition to your court case, you'll need to go to a hearing by the SC Department of Motor Vehicles. This may determine whether or not your license is suspended.
  • First-time DUI charges. Handled urgently and properly, a first-time DUI can have only a limited effect on your life.
  • DUI Penalties will depend greatly on your existing criminal record, if any, and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. It may be possible to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced.
  • Repeat and felony DUI charges. The law uses a 10 year look-back period. If you've had a DUI in the last 10 years, you'll be charged as a repeat offender. These are serious criminal charges; having an experienced DUI lawyer is crucial to a good outcome.
  • Underage drinking and driving. Youth are especially vulnerable. Given the long life ahead of them, they want to keep their criminal records clean.

A DUI Arrest has Many Consequences

Since 2008, South Carolina DUI laws are in line with most of the rest of the country. The legal penalties confronting you after a Columbia DUI arrest are both financially and personally costly. A charge of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated is often accompanied by:

  • high fines and court costs
  • a high chance of a suspended drivers license
  • expensive SR-22 insurance for three years
  • court ordered drug and alcohol treatment program
  • jail time
  • if you’re a College Student, loss of federal loans or grants
  • a negative effect on your current employment and even future employment options

DUI Jail Time and Fines

Penalties increase in DUI cases if a minor is in the vehicle at the time of arrest, the blood alcohol content (BAC) is greater than or equal to 0.10, or if an accident occurs as a result of the DUI offense. Other penalties, such as license suspension, completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program, or the required installation of an ignition interlock device in your car may be required.

First Offense DUI 

If this is your first offense DUI, the criminal penalties you may face are directly related to your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), found in the results of your breathalyzer test:

  • A BAC between .08 and .15: a fine of $500 not including additional court costs, up to 72 hours of community service, and in some cases, anywhere from 3 to 30 days in jail;
  • A BAC of .16 or higher: a $1,000 fine in addition to court costs, up to 30 days of community service, and as many as 90 days in jail.

DUI Second Offense

If you're charged with a second DUI after a prior DUI conviction, you may face the following penalties:

  • Second DUI conviction (within 10 years of first): a fine between $2,100 and $5,100, in addition to court costs, and a sentence of jail time ranging from a minimum of 5 days to one year in prison.
  • A BAC between .10 and .15: will get you a fine of $2,100 to $5,100, plus court costs, and a jail sentence of anywhere from 30 days to two years in prison
  • A BAC of .16 or higher: will cost you from between $3,500 to $6,300 in fines, in addition to court costs, and a jail sentence of a minimum 90 days up to three years in prison
  • One year suspension of your driver's license
  • Court ordered certificate of completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of two years

3rd Offense DUI

If this is your 3rd DUI offense, your penalties may be doubled:

  • A third DUI conviction (within 10 years of first): a fine between $3,800 and $6,300, plus court costs; a jail sentence of 60 days to three years in prison
  • A BAC between .10 and .15: a fine between $5,000 to $7,500, plus court costs; 90 days in jail to four years in prison
  • A BAC between .16 and above: a fine between $7,500 to $10,000, plus court costs; six months in jail to five years in prison
  • Court order certificate of completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • License suspension
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of three years.

Repeat and Felony DUI

Four drunk driving offenses within a 10 year span is considered a felony DUI in South Carolina. Penalties include incarceration for up to seven years and an automatic suspension of your driver's license.

DUI Hardship License

You may be eligible for a DUI hardship license, a restricted rights license that allows you to drive to and from work or school after you're charged or convicted of DUI. To be eligible for a DUI hardship license, you're required to install an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device attaches to your car and works as a Breathalyzer test would. The car won't start until you blow into the device which reads your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). The device must register your BAC at 0.02 or lower in order for the car to start. Occasionally, you'll be required to blow into the ignition interlock device while driving. If the device registers your BAC above 0.02 at any time, it causes the car's lights to flash, the horn to sound, and the windshield wipers to turn on. Failed recordings are logged by the device and may result in losing your license.

A Columbia SC DUI Attorney who has your best interests at heart

If you've been charged with a DUI, timing is very important. Letting the process unfold without a solid defense can work against you, and increase your levels of stress and worry. An experienced DUI Attorney like David Tarr knows how to analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding your case with a well-trained eye to find potential grounds for a dismissal of your charges or a reduced sentence. Strong representation will preserve your rights and secure the most successful outcome of your case.

DUI Defense

What clients say...

David is an awesome defense attorney! He's also a genuinely nice guy.


He made the process quick and easy.


Super professional, gets things done timely.


The results were nothing less than superb. I have and will continue to recommend him as the man to go to for legal counsel.


During the entire process, David was considerate, accessible, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation.


Mr. Tarr was very knowledgeable of the legal system and that allowed us to navigate through hearings, sentencing and programs for a favorable outcome.


He was knowledgeable of the law and was very prepared for court. He met me at a location near me because i did not have a ride available.


He has exceptional communication a clear understanding of the laws, and knows how to get things done in Columbia.


He is professional but genuinely cared about the outcome.


He is diligent in putting in whatever work is necessary to obtain the best possible outcome for you.