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Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Criminal Defense > Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?


So, you’re driving home late and you see  red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. Your heart stops, your legs go numb, and suddenly you can’t remember any of your rights. What can I refuse? How can I be helpful without incriminating myself? Will I look guilty just because I’m so anxious? Take a deep breath and let’s review your rights.

You Can Refuse a Vehicle Search

After an officer pulls you over, they may ask to search your vehicle. You can absolutely refuse to give them permission to search and you do not need to provide a reason. Be cautious as officers may try to be subtle about the way they ask for permission. For instance, they may say, “mind if I just peak in the trunk?” However, if they find anything in the trunk that they can claim gives them probable cause (even a smell, stain, or crumb), they can expand their search  to the rest of the vehicle. So, if you do not want your vehicle searched, do not consent to any part of it being searched.

If officers have probable cause to search your vehicle they can do so without permission. If they are asking you for permission, you know they don’t have probable cause and are seeking out evidence of an offense. This is your opportunity to exercise your rights and politely refuse to consent.

You Can Refuse Field Sobriety Tests

Officers often administer field sobriety tests to gather evidence to support a theory of drunk or incapacitated driving. However, even sober drivers often overestimate their ability to perform these field sobriety tests satisfactorily. Under South Carolina law, you do not lose your driving privileges for refusing a field sobriety test (unlike for refusing a blood alcohol test, as discussed below).

You Can Refuse a Breathalyzer but there are Consequences

South Carolina law stipulates that anyone driving on its highways has given implied consent to have their breath, blood, and/or urine tested for drugs or alcohol in the event they are suspected of driving while impaired or under the influence. South Carolina law also states that anyone 21 years of age or older who does not consent to BAC testing automatically has their license suspended for 90 days. The suspension is doubled if you have any other alcohol violations over the past ten years. Additionally, you’ll be required to complete an online course through the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and pay a fee to have your license reinstated. However, you still have the right to refuse and incur those penalties and consequences.

You Can Hire a Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with DUI or driving while incapacitated, it’s important to hire experienced and competent representation as soon as possible. Charleston criminal defense lawyer at Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm will ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the representation you deserve. Contact the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm to schedule your consultation today.



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