Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most common criminal charges in North Carolina. People from all backgrounds and of all ages get arrested for DWI offenses on any given day. Many of the people involved in these traffic stops won’t really know their rights and could make mistakes that could make the entire process more difficult for them.
One common issue that often arises during DWI traffic stops involves an individual trying to insist that they don’t have a legal requirement to perform a chemical breath test. While officers cannot force someone to provide a chemical sample during a roadside traffic stop, they can arrest you for refusing the test.
You’ve already given implied consent to chemical testing
As someone with a North Carolina driver’s license or just someone driving on North Carolina roads, you have already given the state implied consent to perform chemical testing if law enforcement officers have reason to suspect that you are under the influence during a traffic stop.
In other words, officers don’t need a warrant to request that you take a breath test. If you refuse to take the test, you will likely be arrested and spend at least one night in jail.
What does an implied consent law violation mean for drivers?
There are two considerations about refusing a chemical breath test during a traffic stop. The first is that it will not stop the state from bringing DWI charges against you. In some cases, refusing the test might help solidify someone’s beliefs that you knew you were under the influence. Even if you avoid DWI charges or a DWI conviction, a breath test refusal on its own will carry the mandatory suspension of your license for at least a year, although in some situations, the suspension could be longer.
Anyone accused of a DWI or other criminal offense should educate themselves about the consequences of their charges and discuss their legal options with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible after their arrest.