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How much do you really know about South Carolina DUI?

Think you know a lot about DUI laws in South Carolina? If you find yourself pulled over or facing charges of driving under the influence, it pays to be well-informed. Here are some questions (and answers) you can use to test your knowledge.

In South Carolina can you legally drink alcohol before driving a car?

There is no law in South Carolina that prohibits you from driving a vehicle after consuming alcohol. You are only violating drunk driving laws if you have consumed enough alcohol to cause impairment while driving. It is illegal to drink while driving.

What does a field sobriety test involve?

If you are pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving, the officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety test. The test typically includes multiple parts such as:

A law enforcement officer may also ask you to perform other sobriety “tests” such as reciting the alphabet backward. However, these non-standard tests are generally not permissible in court.

What if I do not want to take the field sobriety test?

You have the right to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. Many sober people “fail” these tests. You can still be arrested for DUI whether or not you submit to a field sobriety test.

What is a breath test?

A breath test is administered by police to get an estimated blood alcohol content by analyzing the user’s breath for chemicals and chemical reaction.

The (handheld) roadside breath test is not an official gauge of intoxication. It is a tool to justify a DUI arrest and further testing. The real “Breathalyzer” test — the one admissible in court — is administered at the police station after you are taken into custody.

Do I have to take a breath test?

You have the right to refuse breath tests administered at the site of the traffic stop or at the jail. But it is important to note that (a) refusal is a violation of South Carolina’s implied consent law and (b) you can still be charged with DUI even if you decline the breath test.

Refusing to take the breath test will result in a six-month automatic suspension of your driver’s license. You can contest this through a hearing if filed within the 30-day deadline.

My breath test was over .08 percent. Am I automatically guilty?

A breath test is simply one tool to gather evidence that the police will present in court for the case against you. The breath test does not determine actual guilt. You won’t necessarily be convicted if your test is over .08. Conversely, you can still be convicted of drunk driving if your test is under .08, if there is other evidence of impairment.

Will my license be suspended for an arrest?

If arrested for DUI, your license may or may not be suspended. If you refused to take a breath test or registered a BAC of 0.15 or higher, your license likely will be suspended immediately. If my license is suspended can I get a form of temporary license?

If you contest your case within 30 days of the arrest, you may apply for a TARL or temporary restricted license. You may be able to obtain a Route Restricted Driver’s License even without a hearing if you have enrolled in an Alcohol and Drug Safety program.

Can my license still be suspended if it is an out-of-state license?

Your driving privileges in the state of South Carolina will be suspended, and your license in your home state may also be suspended if they are made aware of the conviction.

Will I be required to have an ignition device on my car?

You might be able to shorten the duration of your suspension with the installation of an ignition interlock device, but this will depend on the outcome of your case. The interlock will not allow the car to start if the driver has been drinking.

Will I be charged with a DUAC or a DUI? What is the difference?

A DUI (driving under the influence) has a burden of proof requirement that means the prosecutor must prove you were impaired while operating a vehicle. A DUAC (driving with unlawful alcohol content) simply requires them to prove a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more. The penalties are the same.

Can I file an appeal if I have been convicted?

As long as it is filed within the appropriate time frame, you can appeal a DUI conviction.

Will an arrest show on a background check?

Anytime that you are processed by jail, the record will show up on a background check, though it will not show as a conviction unless found guilty.