In South Carolina, if you get pulled over for a DUI (driving under the influence) and the officer asks you to take a blood, breath, or urine test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?
South Carolina law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI. South Carolina’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood or breath for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC), and of your urine to check for drugs. The officer gets to choose which test you take and you cannot refuse these tests without penalty.
Generally, the officer will first offer you a breath test. If you cannot complete a breath test because you are injured, unconscious, or even dead, then the officer will order a blood test. If the officer suspects that you have been taking drugs as well, then he or she can order a urine test, too. The breath test must be taken within two hours of when you were last driving. The blood and urine tests must be taken within three hours of when you were last driving.
You can read South Carolina’s implied consent law in the South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2950.
Refusing to Take the Test
Once you are arrested, no test can be given until the officer has turned on a video camera to record the test, tells you your rights and the penalties for refusal, and gives you written notice of these rights and penalties. The officer should say that you do not have to take a test. If you refuse, however, your license will be suspended for at least six months. Evidence of your refusal will be used against you in court. Should you choose to take a test, then you have the right to additional tests taken by a medical professional of your choice, but if the tests show your BAC is .15% or higher, then your license will be suspended for at least one month. Also, you have the right to a hearing to challenge the suspension of your license. You must request this hearing within 30 days. If you do not request a hearing, or if you do but your suspension is upheld, then you must participate in an alcohol and drug safety program.
The officer will suspend your license immediately if you do not take a test. You could get a temporary permit if you go to the department of motor vehicles to ask for one. You must do this within 30 days of when your suspension started and you will have to pay a $100 fee.
South Carolina adds time to the suspension period if you have had any prior refusals or DUI convictions within ten years. If this is your first refusal without prior convictions, then your license will be suspended for six month. For any two violations within ten years, the suspension lasts for nine months. For three, the suspension lasts for 12 months, and for four, the suspension lasts for 15 months.
The consequences of refusal are found in the South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2951.
Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DUI Test in South Carolina?
It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested. For a first DUI in South Carolina, a judge will sentence you to pay a fine of $400 or to serve time between two and 30 days in jail. It is possible that the judge could make you do community service instead of jail time, but you never know when this will happen. Considering the possibility of jail, this consequence for DUI is more severe than a six-month suspension for refusal. Still, refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted – you could be found guilty of a DUI even if your refusal means that the state does not have proof that your BAC was over.08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because you knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of DUI.
Get Help With Your DUI
If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in South Carolina or any other state, get help from an experienced DUI attorney. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUI has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s court.