Do You Have the Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?

One of the more common questions people ask our Orangeburg DUI attorneys is whether they can refuse to take the breathalyzer test. If you’re stopped on suspicion of DUI, one of the first things the officers will do is ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, you will be facing serious penalties and it may have a negative impact on your case.

All Motorists in South Carolina Give Implied Consent to Test for Alcohol and Drugs

Like it or not, once you accepted a driver’s license in the state of South Carolina, you gave the State implied consent to test you for drugs and alcohol. This means that you may have the right to refuse to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test. However, that right of refusal carries a heavy price.

One of the big mistakes some of our clients make is refusing to take the breathalyzer test only to be tested as soon as they get back at the station. When the police officers take you to the station to book you on charges of DUI, they can request a warrant to draw blood or urine.

Once this warrant comes back, the officers will proceed with their tests in the hopes that your blood alcohol concentration is still above the legal limit of 08. If it hasn’t been all that long between the time of your arrest and the time of the second test, you may still be higher than the legal limit.

South Carolina Code §56-6-2950 is Very Clear About Submitting to Blood, Breath, and Urine Tests

As much as your Orangeburg DUI lawyer would love to challenge the officer’s request for a breathalyzer test, the law is not on their side. According to South Carolina Code §5-6-6-2950, all motorists in South Carolina are required to submit to a blood and alcohol test upon demand.

The law is also very clear as to what will happen if you refuse to take this test. At a minimum, your driver’s license will be suspended for a mandatory period of at least one year. The officer will physically take your license at the scene and issue a letter confirming the suspension.

There Are Strict Penalties if You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test

If you exercise your right to refuse the breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended as stated above. If this is your second refusal, the suspension will be nine months instead of six months.

At some point, your Orangeburg DUI attorney can attempt to get you a temporary driver’s license. However, this will come at a heavy cost as well. Not only will you have to pay reinstatement fees, but you’ll also have to pay for a drug and alcohol course as well.

Refusing a breath test can lead to harsher DUI penalties.

Your Orangeburg DUI Attorney May Be Able to Get You a Temporary License

As part of your request for a temporary license, you may have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device will remain on your car for the duration of your suspension.

The cost of this device will come out of your pocket. This includes the device itself and the installation. You may also be required to pay the costs of monitoring.

It’s important to keep in mind that an ignition interlock device will make it very difficult for you to escape detection down the road. For example, if you so much as have one alcoholic beverage, you will not be able to start your car. If you attempt to do so, the prosecutor will be notified, and your license will be suspended once again.

The Prosecutor May Hold Your Refusal Against You

It may not seem fair, but when the prosecutor learns that you refused the breathalyzer test, they may be less willing to take it easy on you. Even if the law states that your refusal cannot be used against you in court, there is nothing preventing the prosecutor from holding it against you.

The reason this is important is that the prosecutor holds the key to whether you’ll get a favorable plea deal. One of the benefits of hiring an Orangeburg DUI lawyer is that they have a working relationship with the state prosecutor.

Unfortunately, if you refuse a breathalyzer test, there may be nothing your attorney can do to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges.

The Judge May Impose a Harsher Sentence

In addition to not offering you a plea deal, the prosecutor may recommend that the judge give you a harsher sentence. This could result in higher fines, a longer jail sentence, and the maximum license suspension possible.

Should you be convicted of DUI, the judge will give you the maximum sentence possible. They may also be less likely to approve a hardship license for you.

The way the judge will see things is that there’s nothing to stop you from drinking and driving in the future. They will assume that your refusal to take the breathalyzer test had everything to do with your knowing that you were above the legal limit.

It’s a Good Idea to Contact an Orangeburg DUI Attorney Right Away

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you’ll be facing serious penalties. This is especially true if you refused to take the breathalyzer test during a traffic stop. Your Orangeburg DUI attorney can certainly try to get the charges against you dismissed or at least reduced. However, they will not be able to get your driver’s license reinstated right away.

One of the reasons so many of our clients refuse to take the breathalyzer test is because they fear their blood alcohol concentration will be above the legal limit. The police officers know this and so does the prosecutor. Sometimes, this makes the prosecutor work even harder to prove your guilt.

In a situation like this, your best option is to retain an Orangeburg DUI lawyer and see if they can negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor.