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Criminal Law - Implications of Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Exam

Person taking a breathalyzer test

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked about Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") is, "should I take the breathalyzer?" Generally, whether you should refuse or submit to the breath test will depend on the circumstances of your charge and the evidence that has already been obtained against you. But a more helpful question may be, "what happens if I do submit a breath sample or if I choose to refuse?"

If you refuse to take the breathalyzer your driver's license will be suspended but you may have avoided providing further evidence of impairment. There are also administrative procedures which may allow you to obtain a temporary license pending the case or even have your license fully reinstated. Unfortunately, a refusal may be used as evidence against you in the event you contest the charge.

Alternatively, if you choose to submit a breath sample and your blood alcohol content is less than .05 percent then the charge for driving under the influence of alcohol will be doubtful. On the other hand, at .08 or greater there is a legal inference that you are impaired but if your blood alcohol content does not exceed .14 percent you will be able to keep your license. Keep in mind, the higher the percentage the stronger the evidence will be of your impairment and, if convicted, the greater the criminal penalties.

In any case, refusing or submitting to the breathalyzer will have evidentiary and administrative consequences but taking advantage of administrative remedies and making informed decisions may help you to obtain the resolution you are hoping for. To further discuss the consequences of being charged with DUI specific to the facts of your case, please contact Chris S. Truluck at the Finkel Law Firm to set up a consultation.

This article is addressed to South Carolina Legislation effective until 10/1/14.
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