In North Carolina, all drivers on the road are subject to the state's implied consent law. This means that by hitting the open road, you automatically give your consent to submit to chemical testing if a police officer believes that you are driving while impaired. While you still have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, doing so can have serious consequences. It is important to understand what can happen in your DWI case if you refuse chemical testing.
Procedures for Chemical Testing in North Carolina DWI Cases
When you are pulled over on suspicion of DWI after being involved in an accident or violating a traffic law, police will assess the situation and determine if chemical testing is necessary. Even though you have given your implied consent to submit to testing, police must still advise you of your rights and explain the testing procedures. Prior to taking a chemical test, police should tell you:
- You have the right to refuse chemical testing, but doing so will result in the automatic suspension of your driving privileges
- You have the right to have an attorney or another witness present when the chemical test is administered (as long as the witness does not unnecessarily delay the administering of the test), and
- You will automatically lose your license for 30 days if your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit (.08 percent for drivers over the age of 21).
Once police have gone over these basics, they will ask you to sign a form acknowledging that you understand and consent to the testing.
Can Police Force Me to Take a Breathalyzer or Blood Test?
North Carolina law authorizes police to request a search warrant to test your blood for alcohol. Police can contact a magistrate, submit a request for a warrant, and receive permission to forcibly take and test your blood within a matter of hours. If the results of the blood test indicate that your BAC exceeds the legal limit, you can be convicted of DWI. You may also be required to pay any related lab costs that were required to run the blood test.
Can My Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing Be Used as Evidence in a Criminal Case?
Chemical testing is only punishable by the automatic suspension of your driver's license. It is important to know, however, that your refusal can also be used as evidence against you in a criminal DWI case.
When considered in conjunction with other evidence, your refusal to submit to chemical testing may persuade a judge or jury that you are guilty of driving while impaired. Penalties for a first-time DWI include:
- A minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 1 year in jail
- Between $100 - $2,000 in criminal fines
- Community service, and
- One-year suspension of your North Carolina driver's license.
Why Should I Consent to Chemical Testing?
Many people are ill-informed and think that by refusing chemical testing, the police will not have evidence to use against them. The truth is: refusing chemical testing will result in the automatic suspension of your driver's license and can be used as evidence against you in a criminal DWI case. If police really want to assess your BAC, they can request a warrant to test your blood. If you consent to chemical testing, you always have the right to fight the results in court.
Chemical testing isn't perfect. In many cases, police aren't always properly trained in how to administer tests. If tests or results are not handled properly, they can easily be tainted by outside elements. At Caulder & Valentine, our experienced attorneys know how to attack the results of chemical tests to undermine their legitimacy as evidence. Call us today to request a free consultation and find out how we can help you fight a DWI in North Carolina.