By Aaron Jophlin
This is one of the questions I’m asked the most: what are the choices I have if I get pulled for DUI? The answer is simple – either you take a Breathalyzer or you refuse. Before making that decision, of course, you should be aware of the possible consequences for each choice.
BCA = Blood Alcohol Content
There are three ways to determine someone’s Blood Alcohol Content in SC:
1) Breathalyzer Test, 2) Blood Test, 3) Urine Test
What happens if I refuse?
If an officer asks you to take a test – breath, blood, or urine – and you refuse, your license will automatically be suspended. If this is your first refusal or first offense, your license will be suspended for six months. If you have prior refusals or DUI convictions, the officer will add more time to the suspension period. For two violations, the suspension will be nine months; for three, the suspension will be a full year. But remember, refusing to take the test certainly does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of a DUI. Prosecution often views a test refusal as a sign of immanent guilt and may use that against you in court.
What if I take the Breathalyzer and fail?
In the state of South Carolina, it is against the law to drive with a B.A.C. above .08. If you take the test and are found guilty, the sentence is usually a $400 fine, along with the possibility of serving 2 to 30 days in jail. It is also possible that you might be allowed to do community service to avoid jail time. Depending on your unique situation, this could be shorter than the six-month suspended license received by refusing to take the test. What you blow on the Breathalyzer ultimately influences the severity of the sentence you will receive, which could include license suspension, fines, and/or jail time. Additionally, if you already have a prior DUI offense, the penalty will likely be more harsh.
The obvious choice: don’t drink and drive
The best choice is to never drink and drive. DUI arrests are on the rise. The state is coming down very hard on individuals found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. This is due, in part, to the fact that DUI-related deaths in SC are more than 30% above the national average. In 2013, there were a 335 reported deaths caused by drunk drivers. Law enforcement and citizen groups are doing everything possible to clamp down on drunk drivers – this includes allocating more police to pull over suspicious drivers and setting up random DUI checkpoints.
Call a reputable attorney
Whether you elect to take a Breathalyzer or not, you should always contact an experienced lawyer right away – a knowledgeable attorney in South Carolina who has expertise in this particular area. A good attorney will make sure the officer followed strict protocol and did not infringe upon your rights guaranteed by law.
We can help
If you have questions or would like to learn more about the DUI laws in the state of South Carolina, or if you have recently been charged with a DUI, please contact Bell Legal Group for a FREE consultation. We’ll make sure your rights are respected and protected.