Everyone knows DUI officers want breath tests. But what about other ways of determining if a driver is intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs?

South Carolina law provides only limited reasons for an arresting officer to legally request your blood or urine in a DUI case. The officer’s authority to request them is tied to the severity of the charge. Here are the basic scenarios when an officer can request these unusual tests.

Felony DUI

If you’re charged with felony DUI—the accusation that you caused a crash where a victim suffered serious injury or death—officers can basically get whatever they want. They can force you to submit to tests of your breath, blood, or urine. In any combination. Or all three.

And you have no right to refuse.

DUI: Bodily Fluid Tests

In an ordinary DUI case, South Carolina law strictly restricts the officer’s ability to request blood or urine tests. Here are the restrictions:

  • The officer must usually request a breath test first. If not, the urine or blood test request is unauthorized. An experienced DUI lawyer can fight it getting into evidence. There are a few exceptions that allow an officer to request a blood test without a prior breath test.
  • Blood. Officers can request a blood test in just four situations: if you have an injured mouth; if you are unconscious; if you’re dead; or if you are physically unable to give a breath test for a reason found acceptable by licensed medical personnel. If none of these reasons apply, a skilled DUI defense lawyer can keep the blood result from coming into evidence—even if you agreed to give it.
  • Urine. Officers can request a urine sample only if they reasonably suspect you are under the influence of drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. We typically see these requests when you blow less than .08, which can make it real hard to get a conviction, so officers take a shot at proving you’re on drugs. (Police never admit they were just mistaken about you.)

You do have the right to refuse these tests. Your refusal can be used against you in court. But even then, you might have legitimate explanations for declining the test. And it often comes down to whether you look impaired on the videos, anyway; juries can get past your refusing a test if you have a DUI/ DUAC defense lawyer who can overwhelm them with evidence you didn’t look impaired. The trick is finding a lawyer with the talent to find that evidence in the investigation and present it effectively.

Don’t Let the Numbers Make You Quit

Even if your blood or urine test got done properly and the results aren’t good, the officer still has to get it into evidence to have any hope of convicting you. This is just another chance for an experienced DUI/DUAC defense lawyer to help win your case.

If you feel the odds are stacked against you, they are…if you do nothing about it. Call us at (888) 230-1841 to tell your story and start leveling the playing field. Give us a chance to help you get the best available outcome for your case.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.