In a pretty shocking recent event, it came to the attention of someone at the SC-DMV that there was a significant prior change to the open liquor law that had been previously missed. For almost 15 years no one at the SC-DMV, including court personnel, deputies and police officers, along with prosecutors and defense attorneys notice that under the 1996 reorganization of South Carolina’s “Alcohol and Beverage Control” laws, various criminal offenses regarding the transportation of open containers of liquor and bottles of liquor with broken seals were placed under the general Article for bootlegging.

This past summer SC-DMV realized that the law required the following:

  1. A mandatory 6 month suspension of the convicted person’s drivers license
  2. That during the mandatory suspension no vehicles can be registered in the person’s name in South Carolina
  3. The vehicle or vessel involved in the offense must be seized by the appropriate police officer or agency, forfeited and sold. The sale must be at a public auction and to the highest bidder

These provisions probably would not alarm anyone reading this article as it would relate to a criminal enterprise involved in the sale or transportation of illegal liquor (again, bootleggers).

However, the general motoring public needs to be aware that these provisions also apply to the following:

  1. Anyone who is convicted of having an open cup or glass of liquor in their vehicle or boat
  2. Any person who has in their vehicle or boat liquors where the seal or cap has been broken except in the luggage compartment or the cargo area.

For purposes of these provisions, the term alcoholic liquors means, “all distilled spirits regardless of the percentage of alcohol they contain.”