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Refusing a chemical test in South Carolina

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

South Carolina, like most other states, has an implied consent law. This means that motorists in the Palmetto State are expected to consent to requests to take a breath test or provide a blood or urine sample for toxicology testing. Motorists who worry that consenting to such a test will provide police with evidence that could lead to a criminal conviction may feel that refusing is in their best interests, but that is not necessarily the case.

Bus driver refuses chemical test

This issue attracted media attention recently when a bus driver in New York allegedly refused to submit to a chemical test after an accident that left part of his bus dangling over a highway ramp and injured seven passengers. The 55-year-old bus driver passed a breath test conducted at the scene, but he allegedly refused to allow doctors to draw his blood at a nearby hospital.

Refusals can be evidence

South Carolina’s implied consent law only applies when police arrest drivers for suspicion of driving under the influence. A refusal will lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension, and it may not do the motorist much good. While not as powerful as toxicology evidence, refusing a breath, blood or urine test could still be used as evidence in court. Police officers can also obtain a search warrant to draw blood without consent.

Plea negotiations

A chemical test refusal rarely becomes something for a jury to consider because most criminal cases are resolved by plea agreements. Getting the best deal possible involves convincing prosecutors to see the suspect in a better light, which could be more difficult if they acted belligerently with the police. This is why criminal defense attorneys with experience in cases involving DUI or drug charges may advise individuals to think carefully before refusing a police request to submit to a chemical test.