Refusing the Breath Test in North Carolina

All road users anywhere in the country have a duty to take reasonable care while driving to protect themselves and other road users. As such, driving while intoxicated (DWI) puts a substantial risk on many people since the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to a traffic accident and possible fatalities. That’s why DWI is illegal in NC. But does that mean you have to accept a breathalyzer if a police officer in North Carolina pulls you over?

You have the right to refuse a breath test in NC. However, this doesn’t come without its consequences. If you are wondering what to do when faced with a decision of whether to take the breath test, this resource guide will educate you on your options. Remember, our North Carolina DWI defense lawyers at King Law are a call away whenever you need the help of a seasoned attorney to handle your DWI case.

Understanding North Carolina Implied Consent Law

Like many other states, NC also operates on implied consent law for DWI cases. In other words, all drivers who face lawful arrest for an implied DWI offense are automatically required to submit to a chemical or alcohol test.

Nevertheless, the law enforcement officer must inform the driver of certain rights and possible consequences before asking you to take any sort of testing. This is known as the advertisement of implied consent and includes rights such as:

  • That the driver is being charged with an implied consent offense
  • The right to refuse to take the test, which carries an immediate penalty of one-year license revocation
  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of more than 0.08% (or 0.04% for commercial vehicles and 0.01% for those under 21 years) will lead to revocation of the NC driving license for at least 30 days
  • The right to contact a witness or a DWI lawyer to be there during the testing procedure, provided this doesn’t delay the test for more than half an hour (30 minutes)
  • That the driver has a right to seek independent testing after their release

The implied consent testing doesn’t matter whether the driver carries an NC driver’s license or is an out-of-state driver. The laws apply to anyone driving on North Carolina highways, roads, and streets. This is because North Carolina is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. Under this arrangement, driving offenses for out-of-state drivers are treated as if they were driving in their resident states.

What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test in NC?

Generally, when a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion of drunk driving, they’ll request you take a portable breath test (PBT) after reading or issuing you the advertisement of implied consent. After arrest and getting into the station, you may be asked to take an additional, more accurate breath test. The officer may also ask the driver to take a blood alcohol test in addition to the breath test. The results or the BAC levels of this second test is what prosecutors generally use to prove a DWI offense.

Apparently, you have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer or any form of chemical testing according to the advertisement of implied consent given by the police officer. However, refusing a breath test or chemical test is a violation of implied consent laws. Therefore, saying no to a breath test in Carolina will get you an automatic and immediate one-year revocation of your driver’s license.

It’s worth noting that even if the DWI case doesn’t end with a conviction in court, the revocation will still remain in effect for one year. Nevertheless, drivers in NC may be able to file a petition in court for a limited driving privilege after six months of license suspension. You should also know that the prosecutors may be able to prove that the driver was driving while intoxicated even if the driver refuses to take a breath or chemical test. So, refusing to take an alcohol test doesn’t automatically translate to no conviction.

How to Defend DWI Test Refusal in North Carolina

Declining a breathalyzer or any form of DWI chemical test carries either criminal or civil penalties. One year suspension of your driver’s license is a civil offense, and you may be able to request a hearing within 10 days of the revocation. Enlisting the help of an experienced NC DWI lawyer may give you the best possible outcomes.

During the hearing, your DWI attorney may be able to convince the DMV administrator that the officer who pulled you over had no reasonable suspicion reason to do so. This only applies if you’re charged with a DWI offense. However, if you have been convicted of a DWI offense due to a failed test, criminal charges may be brought against you.

A vital detail to note is that your driver’s license will remain suspended, regardless of whether the criminal charges fail or are dropped later. This is because the suspension was a civil offense for refusing the breath test and has nothing to do with the criminal charges.

Contact Reputable North Carolina DWI Lawyer at King Law

Although it’s your legal right to refuse a breath test, this may not be a wise move. Refusing a breath test in North Carolina results in one year of driver’s license suspension and can also lead to a conviction in court. Complying with the officer who has pulled you over may avoid unnecessary legal processes and prove that you’re innocent if the BAC level is below the limit.

Nevertheless, if you have a reason to believe you shouldn’t have been stopped for suspected DWI, you can count on a DWI attorney at King Law to help you fight for your rights. We understand that DWI charges can be stressful and negatively affect your life. If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested with any DWI offense, we may be able to get you back on the road as soon as possible. For more information, call us at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING. You can also fill out our contact form.