Understanding Breath Tests

Understanding Breath Tests in South Carolina

If you are arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina, you will be offered a breath test by the arresting officer at the police station or detention center.  A breath alcohol testing device (DataMaster DMT) will be used to determine your blood alcohol level by calculating the percentage of alcohol exhaled from the lungs.

How Can a Datamaster DMT Measure Blood Alcohol?

The blood releases alcohol through the breath. When you drink alcohol, the body absorbs it quite literally. It saturates tissue lining in the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines, and enters the bloodstream. When that blood circulates through the lungs, the alcohol evaporates out through air sacs in the lungs. A breath test measures the alcohol in the breath that is exhaled.

A device that can measure alcohol in the breath, can then estimate alcohol in the blood. Breath testing devices use special technology to calculate the amount of air expelled, the amount of alcohol in that air, and then calculate a blood alcohol level based on this ratio above. In South Carolina, the only permissible breath testing device is the DataMaster (DMT), which uses infrared technology to measure the alcohol content in the breath.

Are Breath Test Results Admissible in Court?

Results from the Datamaster, DMT, are admissible as evidence in a driving under the influence charge if the proper protocol for administering the test was followed, and you were advised of your rights.

Do I Have the Right to Refuse the Test?

When you apply for and receive a driver’s license in South Carolina, you automatically consent to a future blood, breath or urine alcohol test, such as a breathalyzer, breath alcohol test, if requested by law enforcement. The consent is implied by the act of holding a driver’s license in this state.

The primary purpose of implied consent is to permit law enforcement to request that a blood sample be taken by qualified medical personnel if a person is incoherent, unconscious, or dead. Implied consent grants this authority without the legal risk of violating personal rights.

However, if the person arrested for the suspicion of driving under the influence is conscious and coherent and able to provide consent, the officer must offer that person a breath test — to be performed within two hours of arrest — as well as inform them of their right to refuse. (For suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, the same stipulation applies for a urine test.)

Refusing a Breath Test and Other Rights

  • If arrested for DUI, the implied consent law requires that the arresting officer inform you of the following rights:
  • You have the right to refuse breath alcohol or other tests.
    Your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for six months, effective immediately if you refuse to provide breath, blood, or urine samples. (The arresting officer must also issue a notice of suspension to you, marking the effective suspension date as the alleged violation date.)
  • A refusal to take a breath test may be used against him or her in court.
  • The defendant can request an administrative hearing within 30 days of the arrest, known as an “implied consent” hearing, in which you will be allowed to challenge the suspension of your license.

Hire a DUI Lawyer to Challenge Your Breath Test

Criminal defense lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC provide a free consultation to discuss the facts of a DUI case. Founded by a former U.S. Attorney, the team at Strom Law also includes a former Public Defender. It’s awarded the highest Martindale-Hubble ranking and collectively holds more than 50 years of complex litigation experience.

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