Give the Best Gift of the Holidays: Safe Driving

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is a great way to stay in the festive mood.  But, many of the parties and other get-togethers often involve alcoholic beverages and lead to drunk driving.  While the holidays are synonymous with drinking and having fun, they can also mean tragedy for people who drive while intoxicated.

Drunk driving is a problem every day of the year, however, it is more prevalent during the holidays.  In fact, alcohol-impaired drivers caused 40% of the highway fatalities on New Year’s Day in 2021, according to the National Safety Council.  The NSC estimates that 345 people may die on Christmas Day and 375 people may die on New Year’s Day as a result of drunk driving.   

Everyone at Sandifer Insurance Agency wants you to have a happy holiday season.  We believe safe driving after holiday festivities is the best gift you can give to your loved ones.  So, we offer this information about drunk driving to help you make smart choices.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in South Carolina

South Carolina has two separate laws to help keep people from driving while impaired, DUI and DUAC.  You might be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) if you drive with a BAC of 0.08 or more.   DUAC (driving with unlawful alcohol content) carries the same penalties as a DUI.  Although DUI and DUAC are not the same, the laws are often used interchangeably.

The list of penalties and fines can be found on the SCDPS website but here is a brief look at a few of them:

  • First Offense – A fine of up to $400 and/or imprisonment from 2 days up to 30 days, along with suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months.
  • Second Offense – A fine of up to $2,100 to $5,100 and imprisonment from 5 days up to one year, and driver’s license suspension for one year.
  • Third Offense – A fine of $3,800 to $6,300 and 60 days to 3 years in prison with suspension of driver’s license for 2 years.  
  • Subsequent Offenses – Can result in one to five years imprisonment and permanent license revocation.

The laws are tough, but the goal is to save lives.  However, penalties and sentencing can vary.  For instance, first-offense penalties can be reduced to community service rather than fines or jail time.  Second-offense penalties may be suspended, but you must pay a minimum fine of $1,000.  Third offenses within 5 years of the previous offense will double the license suspension to 4 years.  

Furthermore, after a second or third offense, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.  And yes, you will have to pay for the device yourself.

Other Laws Related to Drunk Driving in SC

Drunk driving any time of year is unacceptable.  There are no excuses that will make it okay.  So, if you drink and drive, prepare to face the consequences.  In addition to the above DUI and DUAC laws, you should know about a few other laws that pertain to drunk driving in South Carolina:  

  • Refusal to Test / Implied Consent Law:  This law gives police officers the right to conduct chemical tests on drivers they believe are driving under the influence.  You can refuse to submit to the test, but you will have to pay a fine.  You will also have your license suspended for 6 months for a first offense, 9 months for a second offense, and one year for a third offense.
  • Felony DUI Law:  This law applies if you cause grievous bodily harm or death while driving impaired.  The mandatory fine ranges from $5,00 to $25,100, depending on the circumstances.  You can face a prison sentence of 30 days to 25 years.  This law also applies whether you have a single-vehicle accident in which a passenger is injured, or an accident involving pedestrians or other vehicles.

In addition to the above two laws, South Carolina has laws that prohibit open containers of beer, wine, or liquor in a moving vehicle.  If you are caught and convicted of violating this law, you can be fined up to $100 or imprisoned for up to 30 days.

As you can see, driving and drinking are not only dangerous but can impede your ability to drive for many years.  Alcohol affects your decision-making skills and you may think you are okay to drive after drinking.  The key point here:  if you plan to drink, plan ahead for another way to get home

Get Affordable Car Insurance at Sandifer Insurance Agency 

After you have been charged and convicted of DUI, you will have high car insurance rates.  This happens because insurance companies consider you a high risk.  You may end up paying high premiums until all of the charges drop off your driving record.  So, give yourself and your family the valuable gift of sober, safe driving this holiday season.  You may save a life and avoid the consequences that come with a DUI conviction.

Sandifer Insurance Agency can help you get affordable car insurance.  We have over 40 years of experience in working with major insurance companies to provide adequate, reputable insurance for our clients.  Contact us by phone, email, or online to learn more.  We will be pleased to help you with all of your insurance needs.  

Sources: – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over – SC Laws Relative to Impaired Driving – Holiday Traffic Fatality Estimate

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