Difference between implied and informed consent laws

| Oct 21, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

When a police officer in South Carolina pulls over a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer may administer a breath or other field sobriety test. Officers do not possess the right to force drivers to take any part of a field sobriety test, but a driver who refuses to take these tests will likely suffer consequences.

Criminal law professionals explain that implied consent laws expect drivers to submit to field sobriety tests. These regulations are valid in all 50 states and stipulate that a driver agrees to field sobriety testing when they accept a driver’s license.

A bit of confusion exists regarding the concepts of implied consent and informed consent. All individuals possess the right to decide and control what happens to their bodies. Many people believe that the use of implied consent regulations to compel a driver into testing for drug and alcohol use is a violation of their informed consent rights. This belief is incorrect. Drivers who must submit to testing acknowledged their informed consent rights upon getting a license, long before they were pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence.

A driver has the right to say no to a breath test. However, the driver may still face arrest for driving under the influence if other evidence leads the officer to this conclusion. The refusal will also cost the driver the right to operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina for at least six months.

The consequences facing individuals accused of drunk driving include the possibility of fines, time in jail and suspension of driving privileges. Defendants who want to mount a successful defense against these charges may want to secure legal counsel as early in the process as possible. Individuals arrested on suspension of driving under the influence may face a better chance at defending themselves by consulting with a criminal defense attorney.