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Bill Number: 25 Ratification Number: 252 Act Number 179 Introducing Body: Senate Subject: Driving under the influence of liquor, drugs, or like substances (DUI)
(A179, R252, S25)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 56-5-2930, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF LIQUOR, DRUGS, OR LIKE SUBSTANCES (DUI), SO AS TO DEFINE DRUG; AND TO AMEND SECTION 56-5-2950, RELATING TO IMPLIED CONSENT TO A CHEMICAL TEST TO DETERMINE THE ALCOHOLIC CONTENT OF BLOOD, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT BLOOD AND URINE TESTS MAY BE USED, BUT NOT REQUIRED, TO DETERMINE THE PRESENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS OR A COMBINATION OF THEM IN THE SYSTEMS OF PERSONS ARRESTED FOR DUI, TO PROVIDE PROCEDURES FOR ADMINISTERING THE TESTS, TO PROVIDE THAT AN ARRESTED PERSON'S FAILURE TO REQUEST ADDITIONAL TESTS IS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN THE TRIAL OF A PERSON, AND TO RELEASE PERSONS ADMINISTERING THE TEST FROM CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY UNLESS NEGLIGENT, TO IMPOSE A FEE FOR ADMINISTERING THE TEST ON PERSONS CONVICTED OF VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 56-5-2930 OR 56-5-2945; TO AMEND THE 1976 CODE BY ADDING SECTION 56-5-2955 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT EVIDENCE OBTAINED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 56-5-2950 IS NOT ADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE TO PROVE A CRIMINAL OFFENSE OTHER THAN THOSE OFFENSES DELINEATED IN TITLE 56 OF THE 1976 CODE.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Unlawful for narcotic users or persons under influence of alcohol, drugs, or like substances to drive; drug defined
SECTION 1. Section 56-5-2930 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding at the end:
"For purposes of this section 'drug' means illicit or licit drug, a combination of licit or illicit drugs, a combination of alcohol and an illicit drug or a combination of alcohol and a licit drug."
Implied consent to tests to determine alcohol or drug content of blood; license suspension
SECTION 2. Section 56-5-2950 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 56-5-2950. (a) Any person who operates a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or drugs if arrested for any offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. Any test must be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer who has apprehended a person for operating a motor vehicle in this State while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. At the direction of the arresting officer the person first must be offered a breath test to determine the alcohol concentration of his blood. If the person is physically unable to provide an acceptable breath sample because he has an injured mouth, is unconscious, dead, or for any other reason considered acceptable by the licensed medical personnel, a blood sample may be taken. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, the officer may order that a urine sample, be taken for testing. If the breathalyzer reading is ten one-hundredths of one percent by weight of alcohol in the person's blood or above, the officer may not require additional tests of the person as provided in this chapter. The breath test must be administered by a person trained and certified by SLED, using methods approved by SLED. The arresting officer may not administer the tests. Blood and urine tests must be administered by physicians licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners, registered nurses licensed by the State Board of Nursing and other medical personnel trained to administer such tests in a licensed medical facility. Blood samples or urine samples must be obtained and handled in accordance with procedures approved by SLED. No tests may be administered or samples taken unless the person has been informed that he does not have to take the test or give the samples but that his privilege to drive must be suspended or denied for ninety days if he refuses to submit to the tests.
The person tested or giving samples for testing may have a qualified person of his own choosing conduct additional tests at his expense and must be notified of that right. A person's failure to request additional blood or urine tests shall not be admissible against the person in the criminal trial. The failure or inability of the person tested to obtain additional tests does not preclude the admission of evidence relating to the tests or samples taken at the direction of the law enforcement officer.
The arresting officer shall provide reasonable assistance to the person to contact a qualified person to conduct additional tests.
SLED shall administer the provisions of this subsection and may make regulations necessary to carry out its provisions. The costs of the tests administered at the direction of the law enforcement officer must be paid from the general fund of the State. A fee of fifty dollars is assessed at the time of sentencing persons convicted of, pleading guilty or nolo contendere to, or forfeiting bond for violating Section 56-5-2930 or 56-5-2945. This fee must be forwarded by the county treasurer to the general fund of the State to defray any costs incurred by SLED and individuals and institutions obtaining the samples forwarded to SLED.
A qualified person who obtains samples or administers the tests or assists in obtaining samples or administration of tests at the direction of a law enforcement officer is released from civil and criminal liability unless the obtaining of samples or tests is performed in a negligent manner. No person may be required by the arresting officer, or by any other law enforcement officer, to obtain or take any sample of blood or urine.
(b) In any criminal prosecution for the violation of Section 56-5-2930 or 56-5-2945 relating to operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them, the amount of alcohol in the person's blood at the time of the alleged violation, as shown by chemical analysis of the person's breath or other body fluids, gives rise to the following inferences:
(1) If there was at that time five one-hundredths of one percent or less by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, it is conclusively presumed that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.
(2) If there was at that time in excess of five one-hundredths of one percent but less than ten one-hundredths of one percent by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, that fact does not give rise to any inference that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol, but that fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the person.
(3) If there was at that time ten one-hundredths of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, it may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.
The provisions of this section must not be construed as limiting the introduction of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question whether or not the person was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them.
(c) Any person who is unconscious or otherwise in a condition rendering him incapable of refusal is considered to be informed and not to have withdrawn the consent provided by subsection (a) of this section.
(d) If a person under arrest refuses, upon the request of a law enforcement officer, to submit to chemical tests as provided in subsection (a) of this section, none may be given, but the South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation, on the basis of a report of the law enforcement officer that the arrested person was operating a motor vehicle in this State while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them and that the person had refused to submit to the tests shall suspend his license or permit to drive, or any nonresident operating privilege for a period of ninety days. If the person is a resident without a license or permit to operate a motor vehicle in this State, the Department of Highways and Public Transportation shall deny to the person the issuance of a license or permit for a period of ninety days after the date of the alleged violation. The ninety-day period of suspension begins with the day after the date of the notice required to be given, unless a hearing is requested as provided, in which case the ninety-day period begins with the day after the date of the order sustaining the suspension or denial of issuance. The report of the arresting officer must include what grounds he had for believing that the arrested person had been operating a motor vehicle in this State while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. If the arrested person took the chemical breath test but refused to provide a blood or urine sample, the report of the arresting officer must include what were his grounds for believing that the arrested person was under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. If a person who refuses, upon the request of a law enforcement officer, to submit to chemical tests as provided in subsection (a) of this section, pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, or forfeits bond for a first offense violation of Section 56-5-2930, within thirty days of arrest, the period of the suspension of driving privileges under this section must be canceled and any suspension of driving privileges under Section 56-5-2990 for a first conviction may not exceed six months.
(e) Upon suspending the license or permit to drive or nonresident operating privilege of any person, or upon determining that the issuance of a license or permit must be denied to the person, as directed in this section, the Department of Highways and Public Transportation immediately shall notify the person in writing and upon his request shall afford him an opportunity for a hearing as provided by Section 56-1-370, except that the scope of the hearing for the purposes of this section is limited to the issues of whether the person was placed under arrest, whether the person had been informed that he did not have to take the tests but that his privilege to drive would be suspended or denied if he refused to submit to the tests, and whether he refused to submit to the tests upon request of the officer. The Department of Highways and Public Transportation shall order that the suspension or determination that there should be a denial of issuance either be rescinded or sustained.
(f) When it is finally determined under the procedures of this section that a nonresident's privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this State has been suspended, the Department of Highways and Public Transportation shall give information in writing of the action taken to the motor vehicle administrator of the state of the person's residence and of any state in which he has a license.
(g) Any person required to submit to tests by the arresting officer must be provided with a written report including the time of arrest, the time of the tests, and the results of the tests prior to any trial or other proceedings in which the results of the tests are used as evidence. Any person administering a test at the request of the defendant shall record in writing the time, method, and results of the test and promptly furnish a copy to the arresting officer prior to any trial or other proceedings in which the results of the test are used as evidence.
(h) Any person whose driver's license or permit is suspended for failure to take the tests required by this section and who is not convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them is not required to file proof of insurance under the Financial Responsibility Act, and no record of the suspension may be shown on any of his records."
Certain evidence not admissible
SECTION 3. Article 23, Chapter 5 of Title 56 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 56-5-2955. Any evidence obtained under the provisions of Section 56-5-2950 shall not be admissible as evidence to prove a criminal offense other than those offenses delineated in Title 56."
Actions prior to effective date
SECTION 4. Any action occurring prior to the effective date of this act is not affected by the provisions of this act.
SECTION 5. This act takes effect six months after approval by the Governor.