South Carolina Drivers License Suspended from DUI Arrest? Need Help?

By: Travis A. Newton 


One of the most confusing consequences of a South Carolina arrest for driving under the influence is the fact that many times the motorist will incur an immediate suspension of his or her South Carolina Drivers License (SCDL). In this article, I will discuss the factors that lead to an SCDL suspension stemming from the refusal of a chemical test (breathalyzer, bood or urine). 


Before I begin let me be clear that this discussion does not apply to felony DUI arrests where great bodily injury or death has occurred. For most other DUI arrests a chemical test will be offered rather than required from the detained motorist.

If the motorist exercises his or her statutory right to refuse the chemical test an automatic SCDL suspension will occur. An SCDL suspension will also occur if the motorist chooses to submit to a chemical test and registers an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher. Obviously, this creates a hardship for the suspended motorist. So what can be done?


There are several paths a motorist can take in managing an SCDL suspended for refusing to submit to a chemical test for registering an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher (implied consent violation).  For purposes of this article, I will discuss my experience as a trial lawyer has shown to be the most effective way to mitigate the hardship of suddenly being stripped of your SCDL. First, there is not an automatic court date set for challenging an SCDL suspension for an implied consent violation. The court date on your traffic ticket is the initial court appearance for your DUI arrest in a South Carolina criminal court but not a venue to challenge the suspension for an implied consent violation.



30 Day Deadline to Challenge Refusal

Refusing to submit to a chemical test in South Carolina is not a crime but rather is a statutory right. For this reason, the suspended motorist must look to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court to challenge an SCDL suspension stemming from an implied consent violation. Of great importance is the time frame in which a challenge of the SCDL suspension is filed. An SCDL suspension for an implied consent violation 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 timely challenge is filed and how does it benefit the accused drunk driver?



First, the motorist will quickly become eligible for a Temporary Alcohol License (TAL). The TAL will restore the defendant’s driving privileges on a temporary basis by pausing the suspension. With the TAL comes a court date in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court. It is important to note that The Administrative Law Court hearing may be in a different South Carolina city or county than the actual DUI arrest as these hearings are held regionally. Remember, this is not a criminal proceeding so there is not a jury present. The decision maker in a court proceeding (for an implied consent violation) is an Administrative Law Court 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 arrest for driving under the influence. If the hearing officer upholds the SCDL suspension the motorist will be required to register and complete The Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program also known as ADSAP and the suspension will resume. 


Hiring an experienced DUI Lawyer may be beneficial in fighting a charge for driving under the influence or a South Carolina Drivers' License Suspension or an implied consent violation. Unlike most other criminal charges there are both civil and criminal penalties with a South Carolina DUI conviction. Examples of civil penalties include SCDL suspensions, mandatory drug and alcohol education classes and skyrocketing insurance premiums. Examples of criminal penalties are high fines and mandatory jail sentencing guidelines.


Travis Newton is a DUI Defense Attorney and the South Carolina State Ambasador for The American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys. Travis Newton has presented oral arguements before the South Carolina Court of Appeals and was lead counsel for the landmark case State of South Carolina vs. B.T. where the primary issue was South Carolina video tape recording requirements during an investigation for driving under the influence. Newton & Campbell Law P.A. is located at 111 Sharpe Street. Anderson, SC 29621. (

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