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Breath test refusal does not prevent DWI charges

Driving while intoxicated is a serious traffic violation across the United States and police are careful when administering field sobriety tests during traffic stops. Many Columbia, South Carolina residents are aware that they can refuse those tests but not everyone knows that doing so can still result in an arrest or charges being pressed.

A breath test, for instance, measures the blood alcohol content level of an accused drunk driver. Through this test, the police can verify whether a person has a blood alcohol content level that is higher or lower than the legal limit. The first breath test conducted in the field is called an alco-test, which is a rough reading of a person's BAC. If that test returns a reading that is higher than 0.08 percent, or 0.02 percent if the person is underage, the subject is asked to take another test at the police station for a more precise result.

South Carolina is an implied consent state, which means that when a person is pulled over at a DWI stop, he or she consents to a blood chemical test. If the police find that there is a probable cause that a person is drunk, breath test refusal does not guarantee that charges will not be filed. Additionally, it can result in an automatic driver's license suspension and operating a vehicle with an interlock device.

A DWI charge and conviction has substantial effects on a person's finances, employment and insurance. If convicted, the defendant may be subject to a prison sentence, probation, rehabilitation and fines.

As is the case with other criminal litigation, an aggressive defense is necessary to ensure that the rights of the defendant are advocated. The result of a breath test can be contested in court because it can be inaccurate for several reasons. A legal professional can help establish a solid defense and see to it that erroneous or misleading evidence is eliminated, if that turns out to be the case.

Source: Business Insider, "LAWYER: You Should Always Take A Breathalyzer - Even If You've Been Drinking," Christina Sterbenz, Nov. 13, 2013

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