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Supreme Court to rule on breathalyzer testing

Refusing a breathalyzer test from a police officer may not be considered a crime in South Carolina; however, more and more states are adding such regulations to their law books. This has led the U.S. Supreme Court to hear cases coming out of Minnesota and North Dakota that involve disputes about whether people who refuse breathalyzer testing when a DUI is suspected may be charged with a crime.

There are currently 13 states that charge people who refuse breathalyzer tests with separate criminal offenses even when police don't have warrants for the tests. Other states do so when people refuse blood testing. The Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2013 that blood tests could not be conducted on people without officers first obtaining a warrant. Attorneys point to that decision in arguing that the same standard should apply to breathalyzers, and people should not be charged with separate crimes for refusing.

The states are arguing that the breathalyzer tests were requested after the people had already been arrested. They are also arguing that neither blood or urine tests were requested. If the Supreme Court rules in the challengers' favor, then charging drivers with additional crimes for refusing breathalyzers would be considered unconstitutional.

Individuals charged with a drunk driving offense may want to seek legal help from an attorney. Upon review of the evidence, an attorney may spot constitutional problems with the manner in which the stop was conducted. In some cases, a lawyer may challenge the breathalyzer test, especially if it appears that it may not have been conducted properly or if the routine maintenance was not up to date. In other cases, the attorney might be able to present mitigating evidence to the prosecutor in order to secure a favorable plea for a client.

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