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Chemical Testing for DUI in South Carolina

In South Carolina, chemical testing can be used to show the driver’s blood alcohol content. A person who drives a motor vehicle in the State is considered to give consent to chemical tests of their breath, blood or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in their system. In order for the chemical test to be admissible in court, the officer must follow all procedures. The officer must inform the driver that if they refuse the test, their license will be suspended for at least 6 months. A breath tests must be conducted within 2 hours of the arrest and any other test requested by the driver must be conducted within 3 hours. The breath test can only be done by an approved operator of the testing device and only after the testing device has been given a control sample with an alcohol concentration of .08%. A person trained and certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy must administer the breath test sample.

If the arresting officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, or is under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the officer may order a urine sample. Physicians licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners, registered nurses licensed by the State Board of Nursing and other medical personnel trained to obtain the samples in a licensed medical facility, must obtain blood and urine samples.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is required to approve all chemical-testing devices that are used in the state. The BAC Datamaster is the only breath-testing device that has been approved to use. The Datamaster is an infrared light detection device that determines the BAC of the driver’s breath sample. The device measures how much of the infrared light is absorbed compared to how much a typical sober person’s breath would absorb and generates a figure which will be admissible in court as evidence of the driver’s breath alcohol concentration.

The costs of the tests administered must be paid from the general fund of the state. If the person is convicted of a DUI, the person must pay $25 for the cost of the tests. If a chemical test of a driver’s blood, breath or urine reveals a BAC of .05% or less, the driver is presumed to not be under the influence.

Admissibility of Tests in South Carolina

Field sobriety tests issued by the arresting officer can be used as evidence to corroborate or question the validity of any breath or fluid test. Field sobriety tests must be videotaped.  Failure of the arresting officer to produce the video recording of the entire arrest is not grounds for dismissal. If the officer does not produce the video, the officer can submit a sworn affidavit certifying the video recording equipment at the time of the arrest was not operable and what reasonable efforts were made to maintain the equipment in an operable condition.

In South Carolina, chemical tests to determine the defendant’s blood alcohol content is admissible in court. The breath test must be conducted within 2 hours of the arrest. A breath tests must be administered at the direction of the arresting officer. The State must be able to show that the machine was in proper working order at the time of the arrest. Any blood or other chemical tests must be done within 3 hours of the arrest.

Blood and urine samples must be obtained by physicians licensed by the State Board of Nursing and other medical personnel that is trained to obtain the samples in a licensed facility. Blood and urine samples must be obtained and handled with procedures approved by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. For any evidence to be admissible in court, it needs to be obtained according to proper police procedures. If any evidence regarding the DUI not obtained properly, it will not be admissible.

The defendant being tested or giving samples for testing may have a qualified person of their own choosing to conduct any additional testing at their own expense. If the defendant fails to obtain additional testing, it does not preclude the admission of evidence relating to the tests or samples obtained by the direction of the arresting officer.

 


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