It is a crime to drive in South Carolina if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both to the extent that the driver’s faculties are “materially and appreciably impaired.” See S.C. Code, § 56-5-2930. It is also unlawful to drive with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration. See S.C. Code, § 56-5-2933.
One of the most common questions that drivers ask if they are pulled over is: should I take or refuse the various DUI tests? With advances in technology, there are now several types of sobriety tests including:
- Field sobriety test,
- Roadside breathalyzer test, and
- Station-house breathalyzer, blood and urine tests.
In general, during a field sobriety test, the law enforcement officer will ask you to exit your car and perform various actions to test your mental and physical coordination (e.g., stand on one leg, walk a straight line, etc.). These tests are intended to the question of whether you are “materially and appreciably impaired.” The roadside breathalyzer test — which has become much more accurate over the years — requires a suspected DUI driver to breathe into a device that tests for the presence of alcohol. The third test is one of three possibilities: First there is a station-house breathalyzer device that is larger and more precise than the roadside version. The second and third tests are blood and urine tests. Here, samples of either bodily fluid can be taken and tested to provide very precise levels of alcohol — and other substances — in your bloodstream.
Under South Carolina law, you can refuse to provide samples, but there are consequences and samples CAN be taken without your consent with a proper warrant. Here is a quick rundown on refusing the tests under South Carolina law.
South Carolina is an Implied Consent State
South Carolina Code § 56-5-2950 provides that, as a condition of obtaining a driver’s license, drivers are considered to have consented to various DUI tests. Subsection (A) reads:
“(A) A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person’s breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs …”
Can I Refuse to Take DUI Tests in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, a driver can refuse to take the various DUI tests. Indeed, if you are arrested, the officer must inform you of your right to refuse to take DUI tests.
However, there are many circumstances were the tests can be compelled. IF there has been a wreck, crash or collision that results in bodily harm or death, THEN you may be required to submit to either one or a combination of chemical tests of breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, especially if law enforcement obtains a proper search warrant. See S.C. Code, §§ 56-5-2946 and -2948. See also State v. Cuevas, 616 SE 2d 718 (S.C. Ct. App. 2005) (“… the plain language of section 56-5-2946, an arresting officer may require a suspect to submit to all three tests without affording the suspect the right to refuse any of them”). Finally, if the law enforcement officer has “reasonable suspicion” that you are under the influence of drugs — not just alcohol — or some combination of drugs and alcohol, then, under South Carolina Code §56-5-2950, the officer may order that a urine sample be taken for testing.
Consequences of Refusal to Take DUI Tests in South Carolina
There are two main consequences for refusal. First, under § 56-5-2946, a driver’s refusal, resistance or other behavior that makes it difficult for the law enforcement officer to conduct the sobriety test can be admitted into evidence at trial. Second, under § 56-5-2951(I)(1)(a), a driver’s license will be suspended for six months refusing to submit to the various tests if it is the driver’s first DUI arrest (and, again, there was no crash leading to bodily harm and/or death).
Should I Refuse to Take The DUI Tests in South Carolina?
In general, the answer is “yes,” you should refuse to take any DUI tests, particularly if there has been no wreck or crash. First, having your license suspended is much more preferable to being convicted of a DUI. Criminal convictions can have life-long impacts on your future including your career and employment. Second, being convicted gives you a “first offense” which makes any subsequent offense worse for purposes of sentencing.
Finally, you want to give your lawyer as much flexibility as possible. Your Greenville SC criminal defense attorney has fewer options to defend you if you have consented to the tests and provided additional evidence to the prosecution. Remember, just because you are arrested does not mean you will be convicted. The State prosecutor always carries the burden of proving the charges against you by the “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Call a Greenville SC DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with DUI or any crime in Greenville, South Carolina, contact the proven criminal defense attorneys at David R. Price, Jr. P.A. You do not have to face the government’s prosecution alone. A good criminal defense lawyer can minimize the chances of a criminal conviction. Your life and your future are at stake. Contact our office today via email or by calling our office today.