The consequences of refusing a sobriety test

A DUI conviction affects several aspects of your life, from finances to a career path. Even a DUI arrest means you cannot drive a vehicle until reinstatement of your license. South Carolina takes a strong stance against intoxicated driving.

The severity of a possible conviction makes drivers question if they should even take a sobriety field test when law enforcement asks. Before you say no, you need to know the potential consequences of the refusal of a sobriety test.

The penalties for “saying no”

Most police officers pull over a driver when they have a suspicion of illegal behavior, such as drunk driving. If a cop pulls you over, they will engage in a conversation with you to determine if you have any signs of intoxication. They are looking for slurred words, incoherent thinking or a disheveled appearance.

If the cop suspects you are drunk, they ask you to take a sobriety test. You do have a choice if you want to take a sobriety test. However, South Carolina is an implied consent state, which means every driver gives consent for testing of breath, blood or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs when they hit the road.

If you refuse a field sobriety test and a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, the state suspends your license up to six months. Six months is a long period not to drive, especially if children or other people rely on you for transportation.

You can request an administrative hearing within 30 days of the arrest. If you do not seek the hearing on time, you may be able to obtain a route restricted driver’s license if it’s your first offense and you’re enrolled in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

With the high risk of license suspension, you may be better off taking the sobriety tests and arguing the validity of their results in court. But it truly depends on your specific situation and your previous driving record.