Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law: What It Means for You


The roadways of South Carolina carry an unspoken agreement between the driver and the state—the Implied Consent Law. This law is a pivotal element of DUI enforcement, and understanding its implications is crucial for any driver. At Thompson and Hiller, we aim to demystify this legal provision and arm you with the knowledge you need to navigate the potential challenges it may present.

Understanding Implied Consent in South Carolina:

Implied consent is a legal principle that’s often misunderstood but is pivotal in the context of DUI enforcement in South Carolina. By holding a South Carolina driver’s license, you have given your implied agreement to submit to chemical testing to determine your BAC if you’re suspected of DUI. This consent is presumed and non-negotiable—it comes with the privilege of driving.

The tests covered under this law primarily include breath, blood, and urine tests, each chosen based on the situation and substance suspected. The enforcement of this law is unyielding; an officer who has probable cause to believe you’re driving under the influence can invoke implied consent and request that you undergo testing. The result? You face a critical decision with legal consequences either way.

The Consequences of Refusing a Test:

The repercussions of refusing to submit to BAC testing are immediate and substantial. A first-time refusal triggers a six-month suspension of your driving license—no court conviction required. This administrative penalty is swift because it’s not considered a criminal sanction but a consequence of breaking your implied consent agreement with the state.

The penalties escalate with subsequent refusals. You could be looking at a suspension of your license for as long as 15 months, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle—adding insult to injury with both the inconvenience and the expense. Moreover, refusal can be introduced in court as evidence, potentially strengthening the prosecution’s case against you.

Implied Consent and DUI Arrests:

During a DUI arrest, implied consent ties directly into the evidence-gathering process. Submitting to the test could provide the prosecution with concrete BAC levels, while refusal adds a layer of complexity. Not only are you facing the administrative penalties, but you might also inadvertently give the impression of guilt, which a prosecutor can use in your DUI case.

Navigating the intersection of criminal and administrative law is a nuanced process. How and when the tests are administered, the arresting officer’s conduct, and the integrity of the testing equipment—all these factors can influence the outcomes of both your DUI charge and the civil case regarding your driving privileges.

Challenging Implied Consent Violations:

Accusations of implied consent law violations are not beyond challenge. The legality of the initial traffic stop, the conduct of the arresting officer, and the accuracy of the BAC testing equipment are all points that can be questioned. For example, if the breathalyzer was not calibrated according to state regulations, its results could be invalidated. Moreover, if proper procedure wasn’t followed in administering the test or if you weren’t adequately informed of the consequences of refusal, you might have grounds for a defense.

Protecting Your Rights After a Refusal:

The aftermath of a refusal to submit to chemical testing is fraught with complexity. However, understanding your rights is the first step in mounting a defense. You have the right to an administrative hearing to challenge your license suspension, but it must be requested within a specific time frame. Legal representation during this hearing isn’t just recommended; it’s crucial.

Your attorney can argue on several fronts—perhaps contesting the basis for the initial traffic stop, or the manner in which the implied consent warning was provided. An adept lawyer from Thompson and Hiller can navigate these turbulent waters, aiming to preserve your driving privileges and contest the administrative penalties.


Navigating the complexities of South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law requires a comprehensive understanding of legal rights and the potential consequences of a DUI stop. At Thompson and Hiller, we provide the legal acumen and support necessary to guide you through this intricate legal process. We stand ready to defend your rights with the full breadth of our resources.