Understanding South Carolina’s Implied Consent law

Under South Carolina’s Implied Consent law, drivers automatically agree to take a blood, breath or urine test if suspected of intoxicated driving.

In South Carolina and throughout the rest of the country, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08, states the Governors Highway Safety Association. Drivers found driving with a BAC level that exceeds this legal limit may be charged with DUI.

When a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the law enforcement official who oversees the arrest may require the driver to take a blood, breath or urine test to determine if he or she is actually intoxicated. Under South Carolina's Implied Consent law, drivers in the state automatically agree to take one of these tests if requested to do so by a law enforcement official, states the South Carolina Legislature.

The testing process

According to the South Carolina Legislature, when a law enforcement official suspects that a driver's blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08, he or she must first offer a breath test to the intoxicated driver to determine his or her BAC level. However, a blood sample can be taken instead of a breath test if the allegedly intoxicated driver:

  • Has an injured mouth
  • Is unconscious or dead
  • Is unable to take the breath test for any other reason deemed acceptable by medical personnel

A law enforcement official can request a urine test if he or she suspects that the driver is under the influence of another substance besides alcohol or is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs. Additionally, a law enforcement official must administer a breath test within two hours of the arrest and within three hours for any additional tests.

Refusing a test

Drivers suspected of operating a vehicle intoxicated do not have to take a breath test or any other tests requested by a law enforcement official. However, the South Carolina Legislature states that drivers who refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test will have their driving privileges suspended for a period of at least six months. Additionally, this refusal can be used as evidence against suspected drunk drivers in court.

Drivers who choose not to take a breath, blood or urine test also have the right to request an administrative hearing within 30 days after they receive notice that their license will be suspended. However, drivers who decide not to participate in a hearing or drivers who have their license suspension upheld at the hearing must enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

Contact an attorney

Drivers in South Carolina charged with DUI who refused a chemical test may be concerned about how their future will be affected by this offense. If you were pulled over for drinking and driving, speak with an attorney to find out what your legal rights are.

Keywords: DUI, arrest, breath test