South Carolina, like most other states, has enacted what is called an Implied Consent Law. Despite the prevalence of similar laws in other states, most motorists do not understand how the law operates. Anyone planning to visit South Carolina should have a basic understanding of how the implied consent law works.
The implied consent law is founded on the belief that driving on South Carolina’s roads is a privilege and subject to such reasonable conditions as the state may impose. One of those conditions is the requirement that any driver stopped by a South Carolina police officer on the reasonable belief that they are intoxicated must submit to an evaluation of their blood alcohol content (BAC).
The evaluation may be made by submission to a Breathalyzer test, a blood test, or chemical analysis. The driver may refuse to undergo such a test, but in such cases, the driver’s license is immediately suspended for a period of 30 days. Immediate revocation will also occur if the BAC exceeds South Carolina’s legal limit of 0.8%. An individual’s decision to refuse an implied consent test may be admitted at trial as proof of intoxication.
Requesting a hearing
A person charged with a violation of the implied consent statute may request a hearing to determine whether they were in fact intoxicated at the time of the arrest. The hearing officer will determine whether the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant was driving in violation of the implied consent law.
If the hearing officer finds in favor of the defendant, the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license will be immediately set aside. If the hearing officer finds that the conditions specified in the Implied Consent Law have been verified by a preponderance of the evidence, the revocation will be sustained. An adverse ruling by the hearing officer may be appealed to the Superior Court in the district where the charges were made.
Limited driving privileges
A person whose license has been revoked under the implied consent law may petition a county judge for limited driving privileges if the conditions enumerated in the statute have been satisfied.
An implied consent violation is not a trivial matter. Anyone facing charges of driving while intoxicated after failing or refusing an implied consent test may wish to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice and representation.