Getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in South Carolina is a scary experience for someone. The court date may be quickly approaching and you may not know what will happen before, during, or after the court hearing.
You may think that hiring a DUI criminal defense lawyer will somehow make your case DUI worse because you're trying to fight the DUI charges. However, that isn't true. A DUI criminal defense attorney that handles drunk driving cases may advise you of your legal defenses.
At a minimum, you need to know what the collateral consequences of driving under influence are, such as loss of driving privileges, expungement eligibility, ignition interlock device, auto insurance hikes, and completion of mandatory alcohol and substance abuse programs. A DUI criminal defense lawyer at TF Law can help you beat your drunk driving charges and keep a clean driving record. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Greenville criminal defense law firm today at 864-618-2323.
How Does Implied Consent Law Work in South Carolina?
If you operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina, then under S.C. Code § 56-5-2950, you're presumed to have given consent to chemical testing of your breath sample, blood sample, or urine sample to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs if you should ever be arrested for drunk driving. This is commonly known as South Carolina’s implied consent law.
The law enforcement officer must offer you a breath test. To administer the chemical test, the law enforcement officer must be trained properly. Also, the officer must be certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to administer breathalyzer tests using a Datamaster DMT device. The law enforcement officer would need to take your breath sample within two hours of your drunk driving arrest.
If you can't give a breath sample, then the police officer may request a blood sample. If the law enforcement officer suspects you're driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she can request a urine sample. Only trained medical personnel, licensed doctor, and registered nurse can collect your urine or blood sample. The sample must be collected within three hours of your DUI arrest.
Before the police officer administers any tests, he or she must advise you of your Miranda rights and inform you of the consequences of breathalyzer test refusal, both verbally and in writing. The police officer’s advisement and your response need to be videotaped.
What Happens if You Don't take Breathalyzer in South Carolina?
As the law enforcement officer must advise you at the time of a drunk driving arrest, you'll face automatic license suspension for six months if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. If it's your second chemical test refusal, your license will be suspended for nine months, and if it's your third time, your driver's license will be suspended for 12 months. It's essential to note that this is an administrative driver’s license suspension. The administrative suspension will be added to any driver’s license suspension that you would face if you're ultimately convicted for intoxicated driving.
If you refuse blood alcohol tests, you must complete the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP). This program entails being assessed for alcohol and/or drug addiction and undergoing any required alcohol or drug abuse treatment. The program costs anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to complete, and this program may last for 12 months, depending on your treatment requirements.
If you refuse to submit to alcohol testing, the police officers and prosecutor will lack test results showing your blood alcohol content (BAC). However, they may use other evidence to get a DUI conviction, including your refusal to submit to alcohol breath tests.
Are Breathalyzers Admissible in South Carolina's Courts?
Yes, but your DUI criminal defense attorney can challenge them. There are many ways your DUI attorney can challenge the breathalyzer test results. Even if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, your refusal is admissible in court and the prosecution can use it against you in court.
If your DUI criminal defense attorney or a medical expert hired by your criminal defense team can make a winning argument on why the Judge shouldn't allow the blood alcohol level results to be entered into evidence, then the blood alcohol concentration result won't be used against you in court. Examples may include that the breath test device was not functioning properly or that the South Carolina Law Enforcement (SLED) protocol wasn't used according to the datamaster owner’s manual.
Be Prepared: What to do After a DUI in Greenville
How Do You Beat a Drunk Driving Charge in Greenville, South Carolina?
In South Carolina, you're innocent until a guilty plea or proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Within 30 days following a DUI arrest, you may request an administrative court hearing to challenge the loss of driving privileges for a breath test refusal or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of 0.16 or more.
For the actual intoxicated driving charges, you must fight the driving under influence charges in the specific jurisdiction and court where the DUI case is filed. There are a couple of instances where you could beat a drunk driving charge.
If you refused to take a breathalyzer test, your driver's license is automatically suspended. However, you can fight this license suspension by requesting an administrative court hearing within 30 days of the DUI arrest. At an administrative hearing, you may challenge the breathalyzer test refusal together with the probable cause for your traffic stop, and if the arresting police officer followed proper protocol in administering your breath test.
Alternatively, if you took a breathalyzer test and failed, you can still fight your drunk driving charge. Sometimes police officers make mistakes, or the breathalyzer machine could be faulty. Such issues could mean the difference between a DUI conviction and a dismissal of DUI charges.
Need Legal Help with Your Drunk Driving case?
A drunk driving case is a long and difficult legal process to face alone. A DUI conviction can leave you with life-changing consequences and ruin your future. Under the South Carolina expungement laws as of August 2019, a DUI conviction isn't expugnable.
An experienced Greenville DUI criminal defense attorney can help you understand the drunk driving laws in South Carolina and your legal options to help you decide how to move forward with your impaired driving case. Don’t let your version of what happened fall by the wayside and get railroaded by the prosecution.
The experienced DUI criminal defense lawyers at TF Law have helped many clients facing DUI charges get their charges reduced or even dismissed and we can help you, too. Call 864-618-2323, or contact us online and let our legal team review evaluate your DUI criminal charge.