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Some Facts about Breath Testing in South Carolina

drunk drivingIf you’re pulled over or arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked to submit to a breath test, after you are arrested, the Datamaster test is administered at an authorized site after your arrest. The DataMaster DMT is the breath testing machine used in the state of South Carolina, which uses a type of infrared technology to attempt to measure the alcohol content in a person’s breath. If you hear the term “Breathalyzer,” this is a reference to a machine used in South Carolina in the last century. It is often used as a term for breath testing machines in general.

As you know, breath tests can sometimes be unreliable, whether they malfunction or are administered improperly, and record false readings. It’s important you understand how the DataMaster and breath test machines work if you find yourself facing drunk driving charges.

How does the DataMaster DMT work?

The DataMaster breath test uses infrared spectrophotometry to measure the alcohol content from a person’s breath sample. To put it very simply, the machine attempts to determine a blood alcohol content (BAC) result by making a calculation based on the presence of ethanol (alcohol) molecules in a person’s breath and how much infrared light they absorb.

The DataMaster DMT has been proven to malfunction and give inaccurate readings.

Can I refuse a breath test?

You may refuse a breath test, and although there are legal consequences for this refusal, very often it is the best decision to make. When you drive your car in South Carolina, the law states that you have given your consent to give a breath, urine or blood test under certain circumstances. This is called the implied consent law. Under current law (January 2020), a refusal to submit to one of these tests after an arrest for DUI will result in an immediate suspension of at least 6 months. Your license will be suspended the moment you refuse the test – however, you can file for an administrative hearing challenging the suspension with the help of a DUI defense attorney.

What is the legal BAC limit with a breath test?

Additionally, whether or not your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired, driving a car with a BAC level of .08 percent or more is against the law and is called Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC). If you’re under the age of 21, South Carolina’s “zero tolerance” laws drop this level to .02 percent. Under current South Carolina DUI statute, there is no “legal limit,” however, a jury would be instructed in the DUI case that may infer that a person who registers a .08 or higher was under the influence.

Are breath test results admissible in court?

Yes, they usually are – but with the help of a DUI defense attorney, you can fight to make those results inadmissible in court.

Is the DataMaster breath test reliable and accurate?

We at the Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. believe that all breath testing is inherently unreliable. All breath testing machines, including the DataMaster, have reliability and accuracy problems. Among other problems, the Data Master has been shown to be unreliable. The DataMaster has produced false positives and rounded up breath test results to a higher number than they really were. Additionally, other problems have been associated with breath test technology. Breath test results can be affected if an individual has a gastro-esophageal disorder or stomach acid issues. Diabetics and others may have ketones present in their breath giving a false positive or an unfairly enhanced higher result. These are just a few of the many problems with breath testing. There are many more.


Additionally, If the machine was improperly calibrated, in disrepair, or the person administering the test was not trained correctly, the results may be inaccurate – which can lead to false readings and even improper convictions.

Inaccurate and unfair readings and results can occur because of operator error, machine error and the inherent unreliability of breath testing as it is used in drunk driving prosecutions. Even if the operator does everything correctly and the machine is working properly, the physical differences between individuals can result in unfair and inaccurate tests.  Even if the result is “accurate,” it is inherently unfair to rely on a breath test reading that may have been obtained an hour or more after the person was driving.

If you’re facing drunk driving charges, don’t try to go it alone. At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we’re dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of our clients. Attorney Hough has handled more than 2,000 DUI cases, and he’ll put that experience to work for you. We’ll fight to get you the best possible outcome for your case. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Columbia or Charleston, please call 803-771-4119 or fill out our contact form.