What is Implied Consent?
If a police officer in South Carolina pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving, they will likely ask you to submit to chemical testing to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). But can you get into trouble for refusing to take this test?
Because the Palmetto State has an implied consent law, the answer is yes.
What is South Carolina’s implied consent law?
Section 56-5-2950 of the South Carolina Code of Laws says that everyone who drives a motor vehicle in the state is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of their breath, blood, or urine for the purposes of determining the presence of drugs or alcohol if they are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).
The law explains that an arresting officer must first offer a breath test. However, if the motorist is unable to submit to a breath test because they are injured, unconscious, or dead, the officer can then request a blood sample.
This section of the South Carolina Code of Laws also grants drivers the right to get their breath, blood, or urine tested by “a qualified person of [their] own choosing.” However, they must cover any associated costs out of their own pocket.
The law states that arresting officers have to provide arrestees with transportation to the nearest medical facility for the purposes of arranging this independent testing.
Individuals who refuse to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample upon the lawful request of an officer may face some severe penalties. The refusal may even be used against them in court as proof that they believed their BAC was above the legal limit.
What are the penalties for violating South Carolina’s implied consent law?
If you refuse to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing during a DUI stop in South Carolina, you can have your driver’s license suspended.
For a first violation, the state may suspend your license for six months. If it happens again, you’ll likely lose your license for nine months. A third violation usually leads to a one-year suspension.
You may also have to enroll in and complete an Alcohol & Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) if you violate South Carolina’s implied consent law.
What should I do if I am charged with refusing to submit to a DUI test?
If you are accused of violating South Carolina’s implied consent law, it is generally wise to avoid answering unnecessary questions. You should also reach out to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will:
- Help you understand your rights and obligations under the law
- Communicate with the police and prosecution on your behalf
- Examine your case for evidence of errors or unconstitutional actions
- Walk you through your legal options
If the state has suspended your driver’s license, your DUI defense attorney can also request an implied consent hearing (or an administrative hearing) on your behalf.
In South Carolina, it costs $200 to request an implied consent hearing.
Can I drive while I am waiting for my administrative hearing?
If the state takes your driver’s license for refusing to submit to DUI testing, you will immediately lose your driving privileges. However, when your defense attorney applies for an administrative hearing, you will be able to request a temporary alcohol license from the DMV.
In South Carolina, a temporary alcohol license costs $100. It generally takes the DMV around a week to process applications.
Once you receive your temporary alcohol license, you will have the right to drive in the Palmetto State without restrictions for six months. If the administrative hearing does not take place before your permit expires, you will need to reapply.
You should not drive while the DMV is processing your application or after your permit expires. If you do, you may go to jail or receive an extended driving ban.
What are the possible defenses to violations of South Carolina’s implied consent law?
There are a wide range of defenses your attorney can use at your administrative hearing to help you get your license back. The most effective defense techniques include:
- Arguing that the initial traffic stop was unlawful
- Proving that the arresting officer did not inform you inform you of the implied consent law
- Showing that the police did not ask you to take a DUI test in a timely manner
- Arguing that the officer was not trained to administer the chemical test
- Proving that the police did not help you get your blood tested at an independent facility
Your lawyer will carefully examine the details of your case to determine which of these defense strategies is likely to prove successful at your implied consent hearing.
Is there an alternative to an administrative hearing?
If you do not wish to request an implied consent hearing after the state takes your license, you may be able to save your driving privileges by installing an ignition interlock device on your car. This device prevents you from operating your vehicle with a BAC above 0.02 percent.
You will need to cover any costs associated with the ignition interlock device. You can expect to pay the following prices:
- Installation: $70 to $150 one-time fee
- Monitoring: $70 to $100 per month
- Removal: $70 to $150 one-time fee
The total cost of opting for an ignition interlock device after violating the Palmetto State’s implied consent law is generally around $1,000 to $1,500.
Depending on the nature of your employment, enrollment in the ignition interlock program might also prevent you from driving work vehicles. As a result, your employer may fire or suspend you.
William A. Hodge - Your Skilled DUI Lawyer in Columbia, SC
Have you been accused of violating South Carolina’s implied consent law? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my DUI defense firm in Columbia by phone or email. We will walk you through your options and fight tirelessly to help you save your driver’s license.