Anyone who has seen an episode of a popular crime drama knows that when you are being charged with a crime, you have the right to remain silent. But if you have been charged with a DUIin South Carolina, you do not have the right to refuse a breath, blood or urine test without penalty.
Implied consent laws in South Carolina
In South Carolina, people who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol are required to take a blood, urine or breath test when a law enforcement officer requests one. Generally, when someone is arrested in the state for driving under the influence, the police officer will first ask them to consent to a breathalyzer test. However, if the accused drunk driver is incapacitated, a blood test can be ordered to determine the driver's blood alcohol level.
When a law enforcement officer asks a suspected drunk driver to submit to a breath test, the law requires that this request be made on tape. In order to comply with the law, officers must begin taping the interaction with the suspect during the entire arrest, as well as when the breathalyzer test is administered.
Can you refuse to be tested?
Although you have the right to refuse a breath, urine or blood test, you can’t do so without penalty. Some people believe that refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test when being arrested for a DUI is a good idea because they won't be handing over any evidence to the police. What these people don’t know is that refusing to take a test can actually cause more harm than good.
When a person refuses to take these tests, his or her license will automatically be suspended for at least six months. In contrast, a person who chooses to take a test, and fails, may have their license suspended for as little as one month. In order to drive in the state, a person with a suspended license needs to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to ask for a temporary permit.
In addition, prosecutors can use the refusal to take a breath test as evidence against a person in court. The argument will likely be made that the person did not comply with the test because he or she knew that his or her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. This can lead to the person being found guilty of a DUI even without ever having taken a test.
Get the legal help you need
Being charged with a DUI is serious business that could lead to the loss of your driving privileges, not to mention your freedom. If you are found guilty of a DUI, you can face jail time, hefty fines and the loss of your license for a long period of time.
If you have been charged with a DUI, consult a qualified attorney with experience in these types of cases. The laws that govern DUI can be complicated, and you want to make sure that you have an attorney by your side who understands how to defend you.