Do I Have to Submit to a Breathalyzer?
Operating a motor vehicle in South Carolina comes with the understanding that you will follow all relevant rules of the road. One example of this dynamic is the implied consent to submit to a breathalyzer test when asked by a police officer. If an officer makes a traffic stop and suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, they have the authority to ask that you take a breathalyzer test.
However, you also have the right to refuse this test. Christopher L. Jones, Attorney at Law will outline the legal basis for requesting a breathalyzer test, the consequences of refusal, and how this choice may affect a DUI case.
The Legal Grounds of Breathalyzer Tests
In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, and a police officer who suspects that a driver is drunk has the authority to ask them to submit to a breathalyzer test under South Carolina Code § 56-5-2950.
The purpose of this test is to obtain evidence that a driver is in violation of the maximum blood/alcohol level for safe driving of .08 percent. Always remember that the officer’s goal is to obtain additional evidence to justify a DUI arrest and subsequent prosecution.
Can Drivers Decline to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Though South Carolina law says that driving in this state constitutes a driver’s implied consent to a breathalyzer test, a police officer can never force a driver to take one. A driver under suspicion of DUI can always refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, or any other form of blood or urine test, that may incriminate them in a drunk driving case.
Refusing to submit comes with harsh consequences. A refusal will result in a mandatory six-month loss of license. However, an experienced attorney can help you get a temporary alcohol license by requesting an Administrative Hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Refusing to submit to a breath test can also be evidence in a subsequent DUI trial, and requires that a driver enroll in an alcohol and drug safety action program at their own expense.
Even though a driver always has the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, the immediate consequences are strict, and refusal can be powerful evidence of implied guilt at a DUI trial. Every driver must therefore decide for themselves whether refusal is worth the risk. If you find yourself wondering, “Do I have to submit to a breathalyzer exam?” the answer is No.
Call a DUI Attorney to Learn More
If you find yourself stopped by an officer and are asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, you technically have the power to refuse. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney for assistance in contesting your charge.