When the police pull someone over on suspicion of drunk driving, they have a certain routine. One of the first things they do is touch the back of your vehicle. This way, their prints are on the car in case you take off and they need to prove they had stopped you previously.
The next thing they’ll do is come to your window and ask if you’ve been drinking. While you’re answering this question, they’ll be looking for signs that you’re driving under the influence. The next question they’ll probably ask you is whether you’re willing to take a breathalyzer test.
This is when things can get tricky. A Spartanburg DUI lawyer often gets asked whether the police have a right to do this. The answer is a bit more complicated than you may think.
Here, we’re going to discuss what your rights are when it comes to taking a breathalyzer test. We’ll also explain what the consequences are if you refuse to take the test. If you still have questions or are already facing DUI charges, make sure to call and speak with one of our Spartanburg criminal defense attorneys right away.
What Is a Breathalyzer Test and What Does it Measure?
A breathalyzer test is a small, portable machine that you blow into. You’ll be asked to continue to blow into the nozzle until you hear a long beep. This lets the officer know that the test results have registered. When the officer looks at the screen on the device, it will tell them what your blood alcohol concentration is.
This is what the breathalyzer test measures. When you drink alcohol, a portion of it remains in your bloodstream. The result of the test is the blood alcohol concentration in your body. In South Carolina, as in every other state, the legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08. If you blow a .08 or higher, you will be deemed intoxicated for purposes of drunk driving laws.
Several things can affect the results of your test. These include:
- Your body size
- Your body’s fat content
- Your experience and history of drinking alcohol
- Your tolerance to alcohol
- Your weight
- Your gender
Generally, men tend to have a lower BAC level than women. This has more to do with their overall muscle mass rather than anything else. People who have been drinking for years also tend to have a higher tolerance for alcohol. This means that their body metabolizes the alcohol faster than people who rarely drink. People who weigh less than the average person will also report a higher BAC. Alcohol tends to hit small people a lot harder than larger people.
If you take the breathalyzer test and blow a 0.08 or higher, you will be arrested and charged with DUI. Your Spartanburg DUI lawyer can challenge the results of this test by looking at the factors outlined above.
What Happens if You Refuse to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
When clients ask us if they have the right to refuse to take the breathalyzer test, we tell them the truth. Legally, they have the right to refuse it. However, since South Carolina is an implied consent state, your refusal carries with it several consequences. First, your license will be automatically suspended for a period of 6 months. If it’s the second or third time you’ve refused the breathalyzer test, the administrative suspension will increase to up to a year.
It’s important to remember that this suspension is in addition to any suspension ordered by the court. For example, if you are sentenced to 4 months in jail and a 1-year suspension of your driver’s license, the additional 6 months for the refusal will be added to the 1-year suspension imposed by the court.
The other thing you must keep in mind is that you can still be arrested even without the aid of a breathalyzer test. If the officers believe or have reasonable suspicion that you’re driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you’ll still be arrested. The cops don’t have to prove that your BAC was higher than .08. All they have to do is show that, in their professional opinion, you were drunk or high at the time of your traffic stop.
If you’re afraid to take the test because you know you’ll fail, you have a hard decision before you. The last thing you want to do is hand the cops evidence that you’ve been drinking. However, if they can already tell that you’re impaired, they don’t really need the results of a breathalyzer to show reasonable cause. They can arrest you and have you charged with DUI as long as the circumstances warrant it.
Contact a Seasoned Spartanburg DUI Lawyer Right Away
If you’ve recently been charged with DUI in South Carolina, you’re likely facing your first court appearance any day now. It doesn’t take long for the criminal justice wheels to start turning. If you refused to take the breathalyzer test during your traffic stop, you already know that the police can seize your driver’s license. You must also know by now that refusing to take the test may have been a bad idea. Either way, you’re going to need the services of an experienced Spartanburg criminal defense attorney right away.
Deciding whether to take the breathalyzer test while being evaluated for DUI can be difficult. Part of you feels violated and wants to refuse the test. The other part of you worries that, if you do take the test, you’ll fail miserably. You try to calculate which outcome is worse. The truth is, not all situations are the same. Only you can decide what is best for you given the circumstances.
What we can do is help you work your way through the criminal justice system. We can stand up on your behalf during your first appearance. We’ll also do our best to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. There are no guarantees, but your chances of avoiding a harsh sentence are much better if you have an attorney than if you try to handle things yourself.
Call today and schedule your initial consultation.