What You Need to Know About Administrative Hearings in SC

What You Need to Know About Administrative Hearings in SC

If you have been arrested for DUI, you may not realize that you will lose important rights if you do not request an administrative hearing within 30 days. 

If you refused the breathalyzer test or if you took the test and the result was .15% or greater, your license was immediately suspended. That suspension, as well as ADSAP and ignition interlock device (IID) requirements, is separate from your criminal case and is heard in a different courtroom. 

In this article you will learn:

  • When you need an implied consent hearing, 
  • What an implied consent hearing is, 
  • How to request the hearing, and 
  • How to get a temporary license that allows you to drive until your hearing. 

Administrative Hearings in South Carolina: One DUI, Two Courts

DUI law in South Carolina can be complex and difficult to navigate. 

One example of this is the procedure for requesting administrative hearings in South Carolina when you have an implied consent violation – your criminal charges for DUI and your administrative hearing for implied consent will be in two different courtrooms, on two different dates, with two separate sets of penalties if you lose. 

DUI Charges in the Criminal Court

Your DUI charge will be heard in a criminal court – the magistrate or municipal court if it is a DUI or DUAC 1st offense, and General Sessions Court for all other DUI offenses. Your case will automatically be scheduled for an initial court date if it is in the lower courts or an initial appearance (roll call) if it is in General Sessions Court. 

Implied Consent Hearings in the Administrative Court

If you have an implied consent violation because you refused the breathalyzer or because your breath test result was .15% or greater, your administrative hearing date is not automatically scheduled, and your license is immediately suspended in SC.

You will get a notice of suspension from the arresting officer, and you have only 30 days to request an administrative hearing, or you will lose your right to contest the implied consent suspension. The proceedings and the penalties if you lose the hearing are separate from your DUI charges – one has no impact on the other. 

Whether you win or lose your administrative hearing, you must still fight the DUI charge in another courtroom on another day. 

Notice of Suspension

The arresting officer (or Datamaster operator, if they are not the same person) will give you a “Notice of Suspension” along with your other paperwork. 

You will need the original Notice to request an administrative hearing, and it contains instructions for how to request an administrative hearing to contest the implied consent suspension, the address to which you must mail the request, and the fee that you must pay. 

Do not lose your original Notice of Suspension, and make sure you bring it to your attorney at your first meeting. 

Implied Consent – What Does it Mean? 

South Carolina’s implied consent statutes say any person who drives a motor vehicle in the State of South Carolina has “impliedly consented” to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine whether they are under the influence. 

Of course, you didn’t really consent to that. Nevertheless, if you refuse the breathalyzer (or a blood or urine test), you may suffer administrative penalties including a license suspension, enrollment in ADSAP, and an ignition interlock device (IID) requirement. 

The officer will read your “implied consent rights” to you and provide you with a written copy of your implied consent rights before offering you the breath test. You have the right to refuse the test. 

If you refuse the test, your license is suspended. If you take the test and the result is .15% or greater, your license is still suspended. The length of suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions you have had and whether the suspension is for a refusal or a result greater than .15%: 

Prior Convictions During Past 10 Years License Suspension Period for BAC of .15% or higher License Suspension Period for Refusing the Breathalyzer
0 1 month 6 months
1 2 months 9 months
2 3 months 12 months
3 4 months 15 months

You can request an administrative hearing, however, where you can ask the administrative law court to “overrule” the officer’s decision to suspend your license. 

Temporary Licenses

Once you have requested an administrative hearing for an implied consent violation, you can get a temporary, “alcohol restricted” license that will allow you to drive anywhere (as long as there is no alcohol in your system) until the hearing date. 

The Implied Consent Hearing

At the implied consent hearing, your attorney can ask an administrative hearing officer to “rescind the suspension” because:

  • There was no probable cause for the arrest, 
  • The officer did not follow SLED policy and procedure when administering the test, 
  • The officer who administered the test was not qualified,
  • The machine was not working properly, or 
  • The officer did not comply with SC’s implied consent laws when administering the test. 

If the hearing officer agrees, you get your license back (but you must still appear in the criminal court for the DUI charges). If the officer doesn’t appear on the hearing date or if the officer does not enter testimony, you get your license back. 

If you lose the administrative hearing or if you do not request the hearing, your license will be suspended, you will need to enroll in the ADSAP program, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can drive again. 

These penalties are separate and in addition to any penalties that you face if you are convicted of the DUI. For example, if you lose your administrative hearing and you are convicted of DUI, you will have two consecutive license suspensions. 

Questions About Administrative Hearings in South Carolina? 

If you have been charged with DUI in South Carolina, get an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side immediately who can begin preparing your defense and ensure that you do not miss important deadlines.

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

Ready To Speak With An Attorney?

Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.