SCDL Suspended for Refusing Breathalyzer. Implied Consent in SC.

By: Travis Newton

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 SCDMV.

 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.


There are several paths 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 an implied consent 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 regionally.


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. 


Travis Newton has defended thousands of clients in South Carolina Summary and General Sessions Courts and has presented oral arguments before the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Travis is Lead Counsel Rated by Thomson Reuters for DUI Defense with an Avvo Rating of Ten in the legal practice areas of Criminal Defense and Driving Under the Influence. Travis Newton is a South Carolina State Ambassador for and founding member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys (AAPDA).




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