Administrative suspensions of a person’s driver’s license in South Carolina can be confusing, but that’s what we’re here for. We are often asked to explain the process by drivers in Greenville, Anderson, and Spartanburg counties who have been accused of DUI/drunk driving. The answer is pretty simple.
Basically, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (acting through the arresting officer in a DUI/drunk driving case) can suspend the driver’s license of a motorist who refuses the breath test or takes the breath test and registers .15 or higher. The seizure of the driver’s license of a person in this situation occurs at the end of the arrest.
Within 30 days of the suspension, a driver can request a hearing in writing through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. The scope of the hearing is limited to a number of different potential factors surrounding the arrest. Some of these include whether the driver was lawfully arrested or detained, was given a written copy and verbally informed of their rights, refused to take the breath test, took the test and registered .15 or higher, the officer offering the test was certified by SLED, and/or the machine was working properly.
The question of whether or not the driver was lawfully arrested or detained for DUI/drunk driving generally boils down to whether or not the police officer had “reasonable suspicion” to stop the driver. Reasonable suspicion has been defined by the South Carolina Court of Appeals as follows: “Far from be susceptible to a *neat set of rules, reasonable suspicion is a common sense and non-technical conception that deals with the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men act.”
Factors that are alone considered consistent with lawful activity can, when taken together, produce a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
We hope that clears up some of the questions you have, and as always, we are here to give you a free consultation if you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge.