First and foremost, you should never drink and drive. Never. But, imagine this: You decided to drive home having after a few drinks. All of a sudden, panic strikes when blue lights appear in your rearview mirror. Unless you happen to have a portable (and reliable) Breathalyzer handy, you are unlikely to be able to anticipate your blood alcohol content with any degree of accuracy. What should you do if the police officer asks you to submit to a Breathalyzer test?
You should always cooperate with law enforcement, but that does not mean you have to agree to give a breath sample. The first thing to remember is to stay calm and be polite and respectful. The officer does not know you, and this is your only chance to make a good impression. Be courteous, but do not admit to anything. You have the right to remain silent, and this cannot be emphasized enough. You are under no obligation to provide the officer with any information beyond what is on your driver’s license, vehicle registration, or proof of insurance.
You do not have to consent to a search of your car. Any evidence found in your car could be used against you, so consenting to a search of your car could hurt your ability to exclude any evidence that might be found.
If you are pulled over because a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence, you will very likely be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, standing on one leg or reciting the alphabet. Field sobriety tests are used by officers to collect evidence against you, which they otherwise would not have. A driver has the right to decline to participate in field sobriety tests. This is your right, and declining to perform sobriety tests does not constitute disobeying a police command. Under current law you will not lose your license in South Carolina if you refuse to take a field sobriety test. Instead, the officer will use the circumstances that he has already observed without having the benefit of the field sobriety tests, along with your refusal, to determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest.
You Can Refuse to Blow, But There is A Penalty
If the officer asks you to take a breath test, do you have to comply? What happens if you refuse? The decision on whether to take a breath test is a difficult one. You have the right to refuse a breath test, and the arresting officer is required to inform you of that fact. You may politely tell the officer that you do not wish to participate. You are not required to explain why. Under South Carolina law, if you refuse the breath test your driver’s license is automatically suspended. For refusing a breath test you will be required to complete the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services course. Additionally you will have to pay a minimum $100 license reinstatement fee to have your driver’s license restored.
Take a look at South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law HERE.
There is no need to voluntarily give evidence to the police without first discussing it fully with your attorney. Refusing to take a DUI related test may deprive the prosecution of incriminating evidence. If you have been pulled over and you believe your BAC is high, you should consider whether it is in your best interests to submit to a Breathalyzer or other chemical test. Without the results of a chemical test, there will be less evidence available to the prosecution to prove you were driving with a high blood alcohol content. In South Carolina, the consequences for refusal to give a breathalyzer are not as severe as the penalties for a DUI conviction, which includes jail time, fines, community service, and other collateral consequences. Of course, refusing the test does not guarantee that you will not be convicted, as other evidence of intoxication may exist. Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself whether to submit to a chemical test.
If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in South Carolina, get help from an experienced DUI attorney. Contact Thurmond, Kirchner, & Timbes here or give us a call at (843) 937-8000 right away for a free consultation! Paul Thurmond says: “As a Defense Attorney, it’s my sworn duty to protect the interests of you, my client, through any legal means necessary. You can rest assured I’ll leverage my experience and strive to win every possible advantage the situation offers you. That’s my job.”
The information provided on this website is intended to help you better understand general information about the law. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer. Every case is different, and you should consult a lawyer before applying the information contained herein to any particular circumstance affecting you.