breath test refusal

All drivers in South Carolina should be aware of the state’s prohibition against drinking and driving. However, these same people may not be aware of South Carolina’s implied consent law. This law says that all drivers on public roads give permission to law enforcement officers to apply breathalyzer tests that measure their blood/alcohol level. As long as a police officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they can demand that a driver submit to this test. The results of these tests are often powerful evidence of violations of the state’s drunk driving laws. As a result, they often form the backbone of many drunk driving prosecutions.

But what happens if a person refuses to submit to a breath test in South Carolina? This may seem like a powerful tactic to weaken a prosecutor’s future case. While having no breath result can certainly play to a driver’s factor in a future trial, making this decision comes with severe, immediate consequences. The legal team at Truslow & Truslow PA wants to help you understand the role that this decision can have in your life and future court case.

South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law

Driving on any of South Carolina’s public roads comes with obligations under the law. Among these obligations is the duty not to place any other person at an unreasonable risk of harm. Drunk driving is certainly a violation of this duty.

To lessen the chance of accidents, state law says that all drivers give their implied consent to submit to chemical tests of their blood, breath, or urine at a police officer’s demand. According to South Carolina Code § 56-5-2950, this test must occur within two hours of a person’s arrest for suspected drunk driving.

Refusing to submit to the breathalyzer test comes with harsh consequences. Under state law, refusing to submit comes with a mandatory driver’s license suspension for at least six months. However, this suspension may end if a driver enrolls in the ignition interlock device program. Finally, a person’s refusal to take the test may come up as evidence in an eventual drunk driving trial.

Choosing Whether to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test

Deciding whether to submit to a breathalyzer test is always an important decision that must occur on a case-by-case basis. Drivers need to choose whether evidence of intoxication that may result from these tests outweighs the penalties that automatically come with a refusal to take the test. 

For some, taking an immediate license suspension at the cost of weakening a prosecutor’s case is a good bargain. This is especially true if a police officer does not use field sobriety tests or other means to estimate a driver’s supposedly intoxicated state. Here, simple information that a driver did not submit to a test may not be enough to justify a drunk driving conviction at trial.

In short, interactions with a police officer under suspicion of drunk driving rarely end well for drivers. People often face the difficult choice of harming themselves by submitting to tests required under the law or by refusing and accepting the consequences. The team at Truslow and Truslow can provide more information about South Carolina’s implied consent law. They can then work to show how refusals to submit to these tests will impact a person’s legal rights and future. Contact us now to learn more.