What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Charleston?

Anybody who’s ever been pulled over on a Friday or Saturday night knows that feeling you get when the blue and red lights appear. Even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong, it can be nerve-wracking. Imagine how scary it would be if you’ve been drinking. If you’re familiar with the law at all, you know the cops are going to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. What you don’t know is whether you can refuse the test or not. Charleston DUI attorneys hear this question all the time. You’ll only have a few minutes to decide if you’re going to take the breathalyzer test or not. If you take it, you’ll probably blow higher than the .08 legal limit. If you refuse to take it, you’re going to be in trouble anyway. It can be hard to make this sort of decision.

Whichever way you decide to go, there’s going to be consequences for taking the breathalyzer test. That’s why it’s a good idea to call an experienced Charleston DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. The arresting officer will often let you call a family member from your cell phone. When you do this, make sure you tell them to get in touch with someone from our office so we can get started on your case.

The Police Can Request a Breath, Blood or Urine Test

In South Carolina, as in most other states, everybody who has a driver’s license has given implied consent to a breathalyzer. In fact, this implied consent extends to any sort of chemical test including breath, blood or urine tests. When you sign for your driver’s license, you agree that law enforcement can subject you to this sort of testing if they suspect you’re driving under the influence. If you refuse the test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a period of at least six (6) months. If you have prior refusals, it will be suspended for as much as a year. This suspension takes effect the moment you are arrested. This means that, even if you’re not convicted of DUI, your license will still be suspended. That’s because this is an administrative suspension and not a criminal suspension. It is in addition to any suspension ordered by the criminal judge.

The Prosecutor Can Use Your Refusal Against You in Court

One of the other problems with your refusal to take a breathalyzer test is that it can be used against you in court. If you don’t accept a plea agreement, your Charleston DUI attorney will have to take the case to trial before the judge. The prosecutor will be allowed to bring up the fact that you refused the breathalyzer test. What this says to the judge is that you were drunk and knew you would fail the test. Your Charleston DUI attorney must come up with an alternate reason for why you refused the test. If they can successfully do this, given the facts of your case, they may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Your Charleston DUI Attorney Will Still Fight the Charges

Even if the prosecutor tells the judge about your refusal to take the breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean you’re going to lay down and plead guilty. Your Charleston DUI attorney is still going to try to fight the DUI charges. For example, a subsequent blood test may have shown that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was very low. Since these tests must be administered within two (2) hours of your arrest, it couldn’t have changed all that much. Or they may be able to prove that the traffic stop itself was unlawful. If this is the case, then any evidence collected after the fact must be thrown out. This would include any breathalyzer results or your refusal to take the breathalyzer. If this is the case, your Charleston DUI attorney would also need to dispute the suspension with the department of motor vehicles in South Carolina.

Call and Talk to a Seasoned Charleston DUI Attorney Immediately After Your Arrest

Getting arrested and charged with DUI is scary no matter who you are. Charleston DUI attorneys meet with clients all the time who second guess whether they did the right thing by refusing the breathalyzer. The important thing to remember is that you can’t change the past. All you can do is hire an experienced Charleston DUI attorney who can work hard to fight the charges against you.