How much do you know about drug and alcohol laws in South Carolina? Some of them might surprise you. Keep reading to learn more.

DUI Laws in South Carolina

Knowing the laws and penalties about drug and alcohol use is important. This is especially true when you’re driving. Anyone spending time in South Carolina should understand:

  • DUI penalties
  • Cannabis laws
  • Zero tolerance laws for drivers under 21
  • Penalties for drug crimes such as possession and distribution

Breaking these laws can have serious penalties. You could even spend time in jail. Here’s what you need to know about each of the above.

Zero Tolerance Laws for South Carolina

In South Carolina, a person under 21 cannot buy, possess, or drink alcohol. The state’s zero tolerance statute means that drivers 16 to 20 years old may not drink any amount of alcohol when driving. Police officers can arrest an underage driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .02 percent. Young drivers then face the same penalties as older drivers.

Is Marijuana Legal in South Carolina?

Marijuana is not currently legal in South Carolina. This includes using it for recreational or medical purposes. Possession of any amount of marijuana in South Carolina is a misdemeanor. Anyone convicted of possessing one ounce of marijuana or less faces a fine of up to $200 and 30 days in jail. Penalties increase to up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine for amounts over one ounce.

One exception to the medical marijuana law exists in South Carolina. Patients suffering from severe intractable epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome, or Gastaut Syndrome may qualify to use low THC cannabis. They must have a written note from their doctor. The marijuana must be in the form of an oil with a THC concentration of less than 0.9 percent.

Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

South Carolina has several laws about drug and alcohol related crime. For example, Section 44-53-40 discusses obtaining a drug or device by deceit or fraud. Forging a prescription is a common example. Penalties for breaking this law include a fine up to $500 and jail sentence up to two years. It is also illegal to possess, distribute, or administer a controlled substance without approval. A controlled substance includes drugs listed in Schedule I through Schedule V. Penalties depend on how strong the drug is and whether you attempted to sell it. Any crime committed while obtaining, using, or distributing a scheduled narcotic adds to the penalty.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in South Carolina

South Carolina considers any driver with a BAC of .08 or higher to be legally impaired. These are the penalties for a first through fourth offense:

  • First offense: You could lose your driver’s license for up to six months, spend up to 30 days in jail, and pay a fine up to $400.
  • Second offense: A second conviction means a one-year driver’s license suspension. It also means jail time of up to one year and a fine up to $5,100.
  • Third offense: You face suspension of your driver’s license for up to three years with a third DUI. That increases to four years if your third DUI comes within five years of your first one. A third offense also means the state can take your vehicle if you own it and received the DUI while driving it. However, this is only if your third DUI is within 10 years of your first DUI.
  • Fourth offense: Four convictions for drunk or drugged driving will result in permanent suspension of your driver’s license. You could also spend up to five years in jail.

South Carolina enforces laws related to felony DUI. This typically means the driver’s BAC was much higher than .08. You can receive a felony DUI conviction if you cause serious bodily harm or death of another person. Penalties include:

  • A fine up to $10,000 for causing great bodily injury to someone else. The prison sentence can be as long as 15 years.
  • Causing the death of another person due to DUI could mean spending up to 25 years in jail. You would also pay a fine up to $25,000.

Protect Your Future and Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction Today

Now that you know the laws about drug and alcohol abuse in South Carolina, you don’t want to take the chance of landing in legal trouble. If you find that you can’t stop drinking or using despite the laws, now is the ideal time to research various treatment methods. From cognitive behavioral therapy to medically supervised detox, the options are there for you.


  1. Zero tolerance laws in South Carolina (2020)
  2. Marijuana laws in South Carolina (2017, June 10)
  3. Drug and alcohol related crime in South Carolina (2017, June 10)
  4. Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in South Carolina (2020)

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