The answer to that question is yes. You do have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test in South Carolina, however, there are serious consequences if you do say no, as there are in other states that have implied consent laws.

When you’re pulled over by a police officer, it can be a stressful experience, especially if you know the scent of alcohol is still on your breath. The cop may very well arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and ask you to take the breath test to determine your level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Before you consider saying no to the breathalyzer test, it’s important you understand the repercussions of that choice.

If you refuse the breath test:

  • You will immediately lose your driving privileges and your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for a period of six months. (If it’s your second time refusing, your license will be suspended for nine months, and if it’s your third refusal, it will be suspended for a full year.)
  • You will be required to complete the state’s Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program, which entails being accessed for alcohol or drug dependency and getting any mandated treatment. The program can cost between $500 to $2,500 and last a year depending on your treatment requirements.
  • These consequences are in addition to any other punishments or suspensions you would get if you’re ultimately convicted of DUI.

The state’s reasoning for this is that under South Carolina’s implied consent law, in order to be granted the privilege to drive a motor vehicle, all drivers are considered to have already provided their consent for a chemical test of their breath, blood and urine. Thus, if you refuse the test, your driving privileges are revoked. Many other places have similar laws, including our neighboring states of North Carolina and Georgia. 

If you are facing charges for suspicion of DUI, don’t let it ruin your life. It’s critical you understand your rights and have skilled legal counsel to help you get the fairest treatment under the law.