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What Happens After a DWI Arrest in North Carolina?

An arrest for driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina is a very serious charge. If you are arrested for a suspected DWI, it is important to know what will happen next. Here, we discuss the steps taken after a DWI arrest to prepare for if you ever find yourself in such a situation. 

Field Sobriety Tests

After you are pulled over for a suspected DWI, the arresting officer will begin to investigate the situation. This will usually include various field sobriety tests and questions regarding your alcohol, drug, and medication use. Sometimes a mobile breath test (“Preliminary Breath Test” or “PBT”) will be administered on-site. By this point, the officer will have gathered enough information to determine whether to arrest you for a DWI. 

Breath Tests

After your arrest, you will be taken to the police station for further processing. If you did not take a PBT in the field, the officer will ask you to take a breath test at the station. Here is what will likely happen when asked to submit to a breath test:

  • Call an Attorney
    • Before submitting to a breath test, you will have a thirty-minute window during which you can delay taking the test and wait for your attorney (or another witness) to arrive. It is always best to have a witness present when you take the test to ensure the proper processing, so be sure to reach out to an attorney ASAP after being arrested for a DWI.
  • Refuse the Test
    • You can refuse to take a breath test, but there is something in North Carolina called “implied consent,” which means you have given police consent to administer a chemical, breath, blood, or urine test to determine whether you were driving while impaired. If you refuse this test, because of the “implied consent” rule, your license will automatically be revoked for one year. 
  • Take the Test
    • If you take the test and “blow” a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, your license will immediately be revoked for thirty days. 
    • If your BAC is below 0.15, you may be able to apply for limited driving privileges after ten days. Contact your attorney to see if this option is available for you, as it depends on certain conditions of your arrest and your prior driving record. 

Prepare Your DWI Case

After your arrest, a judge will inform you of the exact charges against you. These DWI charges will vary based on your driving record, prior history, and the nature of the DWI. As all DWI convictions in North Carolina carry harsh penalties, hiring a North Carolina criminal defense attorney who can assist you with your defense is of utmost importance. Our attorneys are experienced in building strong defenses to DWI charges and are here to assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome after your DWI arrest. 

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