South Carolina Alcohol Laws
Where to Buy Alcohol
Local ordinances prevail, but generally retail liquor stores sell spirits and fortified wine, but are not permitted to sell beer. Beer, which may only contain up to 5% alcohol, is sold in grocery stores and convenience marts. Restaurants and bars must stop selling alcohol at midnight on Saturday and may not resume until Monday at 7 a.m. Other hours and restrictions are covered by local laws.
Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol
While you can work as a server in a restaurant that sells alcohol at age 18, all other responsibilities involving selling or transporting alcohol may not be handled before age 21. As in all states, a person cannot legally consume alcohol until 21.
Open Container Laws
Open container laws prevent drivers from carrying even previously opened bottles of alcohol in the main compartment of the vehicle; they must be transported in the trunk, away from the driver and passengers.
‘Per se intoxication’ means that a driver was chemically tested and his or her BAC level was at .08 percent or higher. In this situation, the state needs no further evidence to charge the driver with DUI (driving under the influence).
A driver with a BAC level of .18 percent over the legal limit of .08 percent incurs harsher penalties.
An underage South Carolina driver may only test with a .02 percent BAC before being subjected to DUI penalties, rather than .08 percent for drivers over age 21.
Requiring a driver to comply with chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) falls under implied consent laws.’ Refusing to be tested incurs a penalty of mandatory driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) can permanently or temporarily remove a driver’s license for six months for the first DUI conviction, one year for the second conviction, and two years for the third conviction.
Vehicle confiscation is a penalty option of the courts with the fourth DUI conviction in South Carolina. Mandatory ignition interlock installation is another option available to the courts, as is education, treatment, or assessment for alcohol abuse under certain circumstances.
DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.