Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in North Carolina?
Getting pulled over on suspicion of driving while under the influence can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience. Many people panic and cannot remember their rights. They may feel conflicted about whether to consent to a field chemical sobriety test. It can be hard to assess in such a stressful situation whether it would be more helpful or hurtful to consent to a potentially incriminating test. The confusion is warranted, as the implied consent laws that pertain to breathalyzer tests vary widely from state to state.
North Carolina Implied Consent Laws for Motorists
Implied consent laws are the laws that all motorists and North Carolina license-holders are understood to have implicitly accepted by driving on the state’s roads. In North Carolina, license-holders and motorists who drive in the state have impliedly agreed to chemical testing in the event that they are charged with driving under the influence or a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that they could be charged with that offense.
In North Carolina, you have the legal right to refuse to consent to a breathalyzer or chemical intoxication test. In fact, officers are legally required to inform you of your right to refuse the test before giving it to you. However, if you choose to exercise this right, it is important to understand the consequences that go along with it.
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer in North Carolina
If you refuse a breathalyzer test in North Carolina, your license will be immediately and automatically suspended for at least a year. However, it is important to know that this does avoid criminal charges. That means that there are no criminal consequences for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. The license is revoked through a non-criminal (civil) process initiated by the DMV, separate from DWI or any other criminal charges. It is equally important to weigh the consideration that prosecutors can use your refusal to take a breathalyzer against you in your DWI or DUI case. It can be introduced as evidence that the individual was trying to conceal their impairment or intoxication, which can result in harsher sentencing. Clearly, this can be a complex process and there are a lot of relevant factors and considerations. For this reason, if you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, it is critical to speak with an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to weigh all the unique facts and circumstances of your case in order to achieve the most favorable possible outcome.
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Being charged with a DUI can be one of the most stressful things a person can endure, and it can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate on your own. Luckily, you do not have to shoulder this burden alone. Our experienced North Carolina DWI attorneys are prepared to zealously advocate on your behalf and determine the best possible course of action for your unique case. Contact Coastal South Law to schedule a consultation today.