Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to drink and then drive a motor vehicle in South Carolina (although it is never a good idea). However, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while your faculties to operate a motor vehicle are materially and appreciatively impaired by a foreign substance. If a person is arrested for Driving Under the Influence, the South Carolina Constitution entitles them to a trial by jury upon request. Just because someone is arrested for DUI does not automatically mean that they are guilty or that they will be found guilty. The government always has the burden of proof against someone charged with a crime and DUI is no different. A person accused of a crime by the government never has to prove their innocence and cannot be convicted of a crime unless a jury unanimously decides that the government has proven their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
When someone is pulled over by a police officer and the officer suspects that the person has been drinking, they will often ask the person to perform a series of field sobriety tests. It is not unlawful to refuse to perform these field sobriety tests and a person cannot be punished whatsoever for refusing to do so. When a person is arrested for DUI and taken into custody by a police officer, the officer will take them to a place which contains a device to test the person’s blood alcohol level by having the person breathe into the machine. It is not illegal to refuse this test but if the person refuses they can have their license to drive suspended for six months. This refusal can be challenged at a later time in an administrative hearing.
If someone has been arrested for DUI it is important that they consult an attorney well before they appear in court on the date that was given to them on the traffic ticket. DUI convictions carry stiff fines as well as many other collateral consequences that can follow a person for a lifetime. It is extremely important to avoid a DUI conviction if at all possible.