As a DUI lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina, I know that approximately 175 young drivers die in vehicle collisions annually in South Carolina. More than 25 percent of the deaths will be alcohol-related. The most common cause is traveling at an unsafe speed while intoxicated. Young drivers will be involved in more than 27 percent of crashes, even though they may up approximately 14 percent of licensed drivers. In South Carolina, a person who is under the age of 21 and operates a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol will be subjected to the state’s zero-tolerance policy. A person under the age of 21 who drives with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent or greater will be charged with underage drinking and driving.

South Carolina Zero Tolerance Law

If a law enforcement officer suspects an underage driver of DUI, they can charge the individual under South Carolina’s Zero Tolerance Law. Traditional DUI requires a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 percent or higher. With a driver under 21, a BAC of 0.2 percent or higher will get them charged with DUI. This means the majority of individuals who are under 21 will be over the legal limit after one drink. Should the person who is arrested for underage DUI be suspended under the Zero Tolerance law, there won’t be any prosecution for criminal DUI.

Penalties for Underage DUI in South Carolina

Should a person under the age of 21 be found guilty of DUI, they could have their driver’s license or permit suspended or withheld. This could last up to three months for the first offense. When a second charge occurs within a five-year period, it could last for up to six months. When an underage DUI case is pending, the individual charged with the DUI is entitled to an Administrative Hearing. The purpose will be for them to seek reinstatement of their driving privileges.

Fake ID in South Carolina

If a minor is charged with DUI, things will be much worse if they are suspected of being in possession or using a fake ID to obtain or buy alcohol. An underage individual could be charged with a misdemeanor crime and given a 30-day stay in county jail. If they are charged with this offense a second time, or even subsequently, it could result in up to six months in county jail as well as a fine. An underage individual found guilty of this offense could also be fine up to $2,500. An arrest of this kind could cause a minor to lose an academic scholarship as well as be subjected to academic disciplinary actions from the college they are attending and more.

Insurance for Minors

When a minor is convicted of DUI, they may lose their ability to obtain sufficient insurance in the future. In other cases, they may have to pay more than $190 a month in additional premiums for auto insurance coverage. It is common for insurance companies to deny policies to people who have a minor DUI conviction on their record.

Adults Providing Minors Alcohol in South Carolina

South Carolina works hard to prevent minors from having access to alcohol. The penalties associated with an adult providing alcohol to a minor are covered in S.C. Code § 61-6-4070(1). It states the penalty for being found guilty of furnishing alcohol to a minor is a fine of up to $300, a sentence of incarceration of up to 30 days or both a fine and jail time. There are exceptions such as a minor being provided alcohol by their parent’s in their parent’s residence. The consumption of alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or a culinary or hospitality course. A minor can serve alcohol in a restaurant, but are not permitted to mix liquors or work as a bartender.