Winning a South Carolina Administrative Suspension for DUI



This week’s topic is the Administrative Driver’s License Suspension for a DUI arrest in South Carolina. An administrative driver’s license Suspension is different than a driver’s license suspension based on a DUI conviction.

It is important to realize that even if a DUI is DISMISSED, your license may still be suspended for 6 months under an administrative suspension. (SC Code 59-5-2951) It’s key to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle BOTH the criminal and administrative side of your DUI arrest.

Cole Law Firm focuses on criminal defense and has successfully represented clients charged with DUI in administrative suspension hearings.


When you’re arrested for DUI in South Carolina the officer will take you to jail and request a breath sample. (They might also request a urine or blood sample). The officer must have probable cause for the arrest and South Carolina law requires that certain breath-test procedures be followed.

South Carolina will suspend your driver’s license if;

  1. You refuse to submit to a breath/blood/urine sample
  2. You register a .15 BAC or higher after submitting a breath/blood/urine sample.

Let’s dig deeper into each one.


When you are arrested for DUI, the officer will request a breath sample. (They may also request a blood or urine sample). If you refuse to give a breath sample, South Carolina will attempt to suspend your license for 6 months.

So should I blow? NO! The 5th Amendment protects your right to remain silent. You are not required to provide any incriminating evidence against yourself. And you do not have to prove yourself innocent by blowing .08. (This issue deserves an entire post alone!)

Registering a .15 BAC or Higher

If you do blow, (which we advise against) and register a .15 or higher the DMV will attempt to suspend your license for 6 months. You may also request an independent test and the officer must provide affirmative assistance to help you get a second test. This is usually a hospital that will draw your blood.


The first step is to act fast and consult with an experienced upstate criminal defense attorney about your case. You only have 30 days from you arrest to challenge the suspension. Your suspension begins the day you are arrested.

Once Cole Law Firm is hired, we will request an administrative hearing to contest the DMV’s suspension. This has two benefits

  1. Temporary Alcohol License – Once we request a hearing, you are eligible for a Temporary Alcohol License. (TAL) A TAL permits you to drive in South Carolina only, but without any other restrictions while your hearing is pending. It usually takes around one week from retaining us to receive the TAL.
  1. Rescinding the Administrative Suspension – At your administrative hearing, an experienced DUI attorney will contest the State’s suspension. There are two issues; Probable cause for the arrest and the administration of the breath test. Cole Law Firm has handled hundreds of these hearings and will defend your rights. It’s important to hire an experienced attorney who knows what the issues are and how to defend you.

If you don’t challenge the administrative suspension, you face a minimum of a 6-month suspension. You’ll also be required to attend ADSAP and pay a $100 reinstatement fee. This suspension is also CONSECUTIVE to any other suspensions. So if you refuse and are convicted of a DUI, you’ll have two separate suspensions! You cannot do both suspensions at the same time.

We’ve represented hundreds of clients at these hearings, and Cole Law Firm has experience in challenging the State on the issues. Remember that the administrative suspension is entirely separate from the DUI arrest! Your DUI could be dismissed the day you’re released from jail, but if you don’t do anything about your administrative suspension you will lose your license for 6 months.