Can you refuse the breathalyzer in SC?
Driving down the road, on your way home on a Friday night, you see blue lights in the mirror. You stop, thinking you are about to get a speeding ticket, but the officer immediately says, “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
Then, he asks you to step out of your car and perform field sobriety tests on the side of the road. You think you handled it okay… until you feel the handcuffs snap around your wrist…
You told the officer you had one drink tonight, but he clearly did not believe you. You felt like you passed the field sobriety tests, but the officer clearly disagreed. You’ve been handcuffed, read your Miranda rights, and taken to the jail, leaving your car on the side of the road to be towed.
Now, after you’ve been arrested, the officer wants you to blow into a machine. Why would you do that now?
Is the officer really going to release you if the result is under .08, or will he claim you are on drugs because he doesn’t want to get sued? Do you trust the machine and the officer to exonerate you, or is this just another way to manufacture evidence that they will use against you in court?
Can You Refuse the Breathalyzer in SC?
You can refuse the breathalyzer in SC.
You should refuse the breathalyzer in SC – in most cases, taking the breath test is probably not going to help you and, even if you do not think you were over the “legal limit,” the machine may give a result that you were not expecting…
So, what happens if you refuse the breathalyzer test?
SC’s Implied Consent Laws
SC’s implied consent laws say that, if you drive a motor vehicle in the state, you impliedly consent to take a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test:
A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person’s breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.
If you drive and an officer suspects that you are DUI, you have consented to take a breathalyzer test… but did you?
Of course, you didn’t. You can “revoke” the consent that you never gave, or you can just say, “No.”
You have the right to refuse the breathalyzer in SC, but there may be consequences. What happens if you refuse the breathalyzer?
Do You Lose Your License if You Refuse the Breathalyzer?
The first, immediate consequence is that your driver’s license is suspended.
If you refuse the breathalyzer, your license is suspended. On the other hand, if you take the breathalyzer and the result is .15 or greater, your license is still suspended…
Either way, you can and should immediately request an implied consent hearing to contest the license suspension. I say immediately because there is a strict deadline – if you don’t request the administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest, you lose your right to contest the implied consent violation.
If you’ve been charged with DUI in SC, contact your DUI defense attorney immediately so we can request a jury trial if needed, begin investigating your case, and so that you do not miss important deadlines like your administrative hearing request.
Implied Consent Hearings In SC
Whether you refused the breathalyzer or blew greater than .15, once you or your attorney requests the administrative hearing you can go to the DMV and get your license back – a temporary, alcohol restricted license that allows you to drive anywhere until the hearing date.
If you lose the hearing, or if you do not request a hearing, you must serve the license suspension, you will be required to enroll in ADSAP before you can drive again, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can get back on the road.
At the hearing, however, you can challenge:
- The probable cause for your arrest;
- Whether the arresting officer and/or Datamaster operator followed SLED policy and procedure during the test; and
- Whether you actually refused the test – if you were attempting to take the test but you were prevented by the machine or by the officer, that may not be the same as a refusal.
Your attorney can cross-examine the officer and, when appropriate, present evidence on your behalf. A hearing officer will then decide whether to affirm the officer’s decision to take your license or whether to “rescind the suspension.”
How can you win an implied consent hearing?
Your attorney may be able to win a contested hearing by showing that there was no probable cause for the arrest or that the officer violated SLED policy during the test. On the other hand, the officer may not appear at the hearing or the officer may decline to offer testimony at your hearing – you cannot count on either of these things happening but they do, sometimes, happen.
If you win your implied consent hearing, your license is restored, you do not have to install an ignition interlock device, and you do not have to enroll in ADSAP.
Your DUI Case is Separate from Your Implied Consent Hearing
If you refuse the breathalyzer and win your implied consent hearing, that has no effect on your criminal case for driving under the influence – your criminal charges are still pending and you are still subject to a license suspension, fines, jail time, ADSAP, and an ignition interlock device requirement if you are convicted of the DUI.
If you lose the implied consent hearing, even though you now have a license suspension or ignition interlock requirement, your DUI case is still in a separate court with separate consequences – you may be subject to another license suspension, ignition interlock requirement, and other consequences if you are convicted of the DUI.
SC DUI Lawyers in Myrtle Beach
Don’t take any chances when it comes to a DUI arrest and implied consent proceedings in SC – your license and your freedom may be at stake.
Call Coastal Law now to schedule a free case consultation by calling (843) 488-5000 or by contacting us through our website.