If you are charged with DUI or DUAC in South Carolina, your driver’s license is in jeopardy. Your license can be suspended not only for a DUI conviction, but also for an implied consent violation – refusing to take the breathalyzer or taking it and getting a result of .15% or greater.
The length of the suspension varies depending on the circumstances, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can drive again.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Implied Consent suspensions in South Carolina,
- How to fight an Implied Consent suspension, and
- License suspensions for DUI convictions in South Carolina.
License Suspensions Related to DUI’s
If you are taken to the Datamaster room at the jail or police department because you have been arrested for DUI, you will be asked to blow into the breathalyzer machine.
What happens if you refuse? What happens if you take the test?
If you refuse, you are looking at an Implied Consent license suspension. If you take the test, the results can be used against you in your DUI trial and DUI conviction license suspension.
Implied Consent License Suspensions in South Carolina
If you refuse to take the test, your license will immediately be suspended for six (6) months. If you do take the test, your license will still be suspended if the result is .15% or greater, and now the prosecutor has solid evidence to use against you unless your DUI defense lawyer can get the result excluded at your trial.
Should you take the breathalyzer test?
In most cases, you will be better off if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, even if you think you are not intoxicated. Despite what law enforcement officials claim in DUI trials, the machine is not reliable – there are many ways that the machine can give inaccurate results.
You have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, although there may be consequences.
Although appellate courts have declined to hold that giving law enforcement a breath sample to use against you at trial is protected by the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination, that’s exactly what a breathalyzer test is – the state forcing you to give them evidence to use against you.
What if you refuse the test, and then your attorney loses the implied consent hearing? Your license will be suspended for a time (or you may be required to install an ignition interlock device), but you can get your license reinstated by attending an ADSAP class.
On the other hand, if you take the test, you may be giving the prosecutor the evidence they need to convict you at trial.
You May be Able to Get Your License Back After an Implied Consent Suspension
If your license is suspended for refusing to take the breathalyzer test or for a result of .15% or greater, you must request an implied consent administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest.
At the hearing, your attorney can cross-examine the officer and present evidence that 1) there was no probable cause for the DUI arrest, 2) the test was not properly offered, 3) you did not actually refuse the test, or 4) the officer did not follow SLED policy and procedure or South Carolina DUI law when making the arrest and offering you the breathalyzer test.
If you win at the hearing, your license is reinstated. If you lose at the hearing, you lose nothing – but you will need to complete the suspension period (or install an ignition interlock device) and enroll in ADSAP before you can drive again.
Length of Implied Consent Suspensions in South Carolina
An implied consent suspension can last for anywhere from one month to 15 months, and there may be a requirement that you install an ignition interlock device before you can drive. The suspension periods are listed in the table below:
Prior DUI Convictions
Within the Past Ten Years
|BAC OF 0.15% Or Greater||Breathalyzer Refusal|
|0||1 month||6 months|
|1||2 months||9 months|
|2||3 months||12 months|
|3||4 months||15 months|
License Suspensions for DUI Convictions
If you are convicted of DUI in South Carolina, there is an additional license suspension – note that DUI charges are separate from implied consent proceedings, and your license can be suspended twice based on the same DUI arrest.
Prior DUI offenses within the past ten years will count as prior convictions for purposes of DUI license suspensions, and the DMV will look at actual convictions on your record and not the offense that you plead to (if a DUI, 2nd Offense is reduced to a 1st Offense for purposes of a plea, the DMV will still treat it as a 2nd Offense for purposes of license suspension).
The length of DUI license suspensions in South Carolina can be found in South Carolina Code § 56-5-2990:
First Offense DUI Convictions:
- If you refused the breathalyzer and are later convicted of either DUI or DUAC, there is a six-month license suspension. You are not eligible for a provisional license, but you have the option to install an ignition interlock device (IID) pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2941 instead of serving the entire suspension.
- If you took the breathalyzer and the result was less than .15%, there is a six-month suspension. You are eligible for a provisional license, and you have the option to install an ignition interlock device (IID) instead of serving the entire suspension.
- If you took the breathalyzer and the result was .15% or greater, you must install an ignition interlock device for six months. You are not eligible for a provisional license, and you do not have the option of just serving out a license suspension instead of installing the IID.
Second Offense DUI Convictions: You must install an ignition interlock device for two years.
Third Offense DUI Convictions: You must install an ignition interlock device for three years. If the third DUI offense happened within five years after the first conviction, you must keep the ignition interlock device on your vehicle for four years.
Fourth or subsequent DUI Convictions: You must install an ignition interlock device and keep it on your vehicle for the rest of your life.
The table below shows DUI license suspension periods in South Carolina:
|1st||BAC < .10%||6 months|
|BAC .10 – .16%||6 months|
|BAC > .16%||6 months|
|2nd||BAC < .10%||1 year|
|BAC .10 – .16%||1 year|
|BAC > .16%||1 year|
|3rd||BAC < .10%||2 years (4 years if 3rd offense w/i 5 years of 1st offense)|
|BAC .10 – .16%||2 years (4 years if 3rd offense w/i 5 years of 1st offense)|
|BAC > .16%||2 years (4 years if 3rd offense w/i 5 years of 1st offense)|
|4th||BAC < .10%||Permanent revocation|
|BAC .10 – .16%||Permanent revocation|
|BAC > .16%||Permanent revocation|
Questions About DUI Driver’s License Suspensions 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.
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