One of the most confusing
consequences of a South Carolina arrest for driving under the influence is the fact that many times the accused motorist will incur an immediate suspension of his or her South Carolina Drivers
License (SCDL). So why does this happen and what can be done?
When a South Carolina motorist refuses to submit to a chemical test an
immediate driver's license suspension will be issued from the South Carolina
Department of Motor Vehicles. A suspension will also be issued if a South Carolina motorist
chooses to submit to a chemical test but registers an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher. Obviously, this creates a hardship for the suspended motorist and time is of the essence
to challenge a suspended SCDL in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court.
There are several paths a motorist can take in managing a
suspension for refusing to submit to a chemical test or for registering an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher (implied consent violation). For purposes of this article, I will limit
the discussion to the most effective and expeditious way to mitigate the hardship of
the sudden loss of driving privileges stemming from an implied consent violation. First, there is not an
automatic court date for challenging a suspension for an implied consent violation. The court date on the traffic ticket is the initial court appearance for the DUI arrest in a South Carolina
criminal court but not a venue to challenge the suspension.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test in South Carolina is not a crime. For this reason, the suspended motorist must look outside the
criminal court to challenge an implied consent violation. The challenge must be filed within 30 days of the arrest for driving under the influence. There are no exceptions to the 30-day filing
deadline. So what happens after the challenge is filed and how does it benefit the accused motorist?
First, in most cases, the motorist will become eligible for a Temporary Alcohol
License (TAL). The TAL will restore the motorists' driving privileges (to pre-DUI arrest status) on a temporary basis thus pausing the suspension. With the TAL comes a court date for a contested case
hearing in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court. It is important to note that the contested case hearing may be held at a different venue than the DUI as these hearings are held
This is not a criminal proceeding so there is no jury present. The decision-maker in a contested case hearing
for an implied consent violation is an SCDMV hearing officer. If the hearing officer overturns the SCDL suspension, the motorist’s driving privileges will be restored to the same status as before the
DUI arrest. If the hearing officer upholds the SCDL suspension the motorist will be required to start and complete The Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program also known as ADSAP and the suspension will resume.
Representation by an experienced DUI Defense Attorney can be beneficial in challenging an implied
consent violation and an arrest for driving under the influence. Unlike most other criminal charges there are both civil and criminal penalties with a South Carolina DUI conviction. Examples of
civil penalties include more SCDL suspensions, mandatory drug testing, alcohol education classes, and skyrocketing insurance premiums. Examples of criminal penalties are high fines and mandatory
minimum sentencing guidelines.
Travis Newton has represented
over 2000 criminal defendants is South Carolina Summary and General Sessions Courts. Attorney Newton is Lead
Counsel Rated by Thomson Reuters for DUI Defense and has a Martindale- Avvo rating of 10 in the legal practice areas of criminal defense, personal injury and driving under the influence. Call
DUI Lawyer Travis Newton at (864) 965-9148 for a free DUI consultation.