If you are pulled over in North Carolina for suspected driving while impaired (DWI), an officer will likely ask you to perform a field sobriety test and submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). While you can refuse these tests, North Carolina has a law of “implied consent” which means your refusal will lead to certain automatic consequences.
Here, we discuss the law of implied consent as applied to DWIs and explain how a North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help you if you are charged with a DWI and refuse to submit to a chemical test.
What Is Implied Consent in A DWI?
Under North Carolina G.S. § 20-16.2, by driving a vehicle in the State, you have given your consent to a chemical analysis if you are arrested for an “implied consent offense.” Implied consent offenses include DWIs (whether as a result of alcohol or another substance) and vehicular manslaughter.
While all drivers give their implied consent to testing, North Carolina law requires police officers to follow specific procedures when administering the tests. They must inform you, both orally and in writing, of your rights, such as your right to have an attorney or witness present to view the test (although they must arrive within thirty minutes of you being notified of these rights). If you are arrested for a DWI and decide to take a test, contact an attorney immediately to ensure someone is present during your testing.
What Happens If You Refuse a Test?
You are allowed to refuse a chemical test, whether it is a breath test or a blood test at the police station. However, if you refuse a chemical test, there will be civil and, possibly, criminal consequences.
After refusing a test, the law of implied consent means that your driver’s license will automatically be revoked for one year. Even if you are found not guilty in your criminal case or your charges are eventually dismissed, because your license revocation is a civil penalty, it will remain in effect. You may be able to request a hearing to reinstate limited driving privileges after a period of time, but this will depend on the facts of your case.
Your refusal will not result in additional criminal charges. However, the prosecution can use your refusal to take the test against you in your DWI case. On the other hand, refusing to take the test gives the prosecutors less evidence to use against you, as they still must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated the law.
Contact Us to Discuss Your DWI Case
Whether you agree to a chemical test when you are arrested for a DWI can change the outcome of your case. Either way, Cotten Firm is prepared to defend you against your charges, fight to restore your driving privileges, and ensure the best outcome in your case. Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how Attorney Jeremy Cotten can help you build a strong defense.