LEGAL CONSENT FOR DUI TESTS
Many South Carolina drivers are surprised to learn that they have already given consent to the testing of their bodily fluids for drugs and alcohol. Like other states, South Carolina has enacted an implied consent statute. This statute creates consequences for drivers who refuse to let law enforcement officers test their blood, breath, or urine when they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Learn more about South Carolina’s implied consent statute, and how an experienced South Carolina defense attorney can help drivers can protect their constitutional rights during a DUI stop.
What is Implied Consent?
South Carolina’s implied consent law is found at Section 56-5-2950 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. This Section states that any driver who operates a motor vehicle in the state has given consent to chemical tests of breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. If a driver is arrested on suspicion of DUI and refuses to submit to blood or breath tests, his or her driver’s license may be revoked for at least six months as a result of the refusal. This is in addition to a suspension which occurs as a result of a criminal conviction.
Such tests can only occur after an officer arrests the driver on suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer must have probable cause to make the arrest, and as a result, implied consent can only occur when there is probable cause and reason to believe that the driver was impaired. These legal requirements can be challenged at an administrative hearing. The driver must request a hearing within 30 days of the suspension being issued. At the hearing, the Department of Motor Vehicles must prove that (1) the driver was lawfully arrested (and that the officer had probable cause to believe the driver was impaired); (2) the driver was informed of implied consent rights both verbally and in writing; and (3) the driver either refused the test or had a blood alcohol concentration of .05 or higher. If the blood alcohol concentration was .05 or above, the driver may challenge the qualifications of the person who administered the test, or whether the machine was working properly.
Other Constitutional Rights
In addition to implied consent rights, drivers have other important constitutional rights which must be protected during a DUI investigation. The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination protects a driver from having to provide evidence of impairment during a DUI investigation. Even simple questions such as “have you been drinking tonight?” can lead to incriminating answers. Drivers should politely – but firmly – decline to answer any incriminating questions about the possibility of their impairment.
Aggressive Defense For All DUI Cases
Attorney William A. Hodge has decades of experience in defending all types of impaired driving charges. He can help defendants assert their constitutional rights in order to promote fairness throughout the criminal case process. Call (803) 457-2216 today to schedule your free consultation. Our caring staff, dedicated service, and superior legal knowledge will help guide you through the difficult DUI process.