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Can I refuse to take a breath-alcohol test in South Carolina?

After pulling a driver over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, police officers may ask the motorist to submit to a breath test. When this happens, the driver is confronted with the choice between complying or refusing. In the heat of the moment, it may be very difficult to determine the best course of action.

South Carolina has an implied consent law on the books. On a very basic level this means that residents agree to submit to alcohol tests when they decide to operate a vehicle on state roads. This means that police have the ability to order breath, blood or urine tests when they suspect someone of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Failure to agree to law enforcement requests to take an alcohol test can have a variety of penalties. Namely, it is possible for a person's driver's license to be suspended for at least six months if they refuse a test at the roadside or after being taken into custody. For those who need to get to work or transport children, this can be a very significant burden.

Put simply, people can refuse to take a breath test for blood-alcohol content, but doing so is considered a violation of state law. And, of course, breaking the law could have harsh consequences -- no matter if the person in question was actually over the legal limit for alcohol consumption or not.

Being suspected of DUI isn't a pleasant experience, but drivers should know what they have implicitly agreed to by operating on South Carolina roads. No matter how a traffic stop under these circumstances turns out, a person still has the ability to offer a defense against any criminal charges that result.

Please note: The content of this blog post is not intended to serve as legal advice or replace a consultation with an attorney with knowledge of South Carolina law. Rather, this content seeks to provide basic information about issues related to drunk driving charges.

Source: WestLaw, SC Code 1976 § 56-5-2950

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