Law enforcement officers use blood and breath tests to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or not. While blood and breath tests are often marketed as easy to use, they can be inaccurate, especially when they aren’t correctly administered. Speaking to a skilled attorney is crucial if you’ve failed a blood or alcohol test and are facing a DWI in North Carolina.
Discuss Your Blood and Breath Tests DWI Case With a North Carolina Attorney
Are you facing DWI charges after failing a blood or breath test? Attorney Joel Hancock will carefully review the facts in your case and prepare an aggressive legal defense. He knows the best ways to challenge blood and breath tests in DWI cases and has a proven track record of getting DWI charges dismissed and securing beneficial plea deals. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your free consultation.
Understanding Blood and Breath Alcohol Tests
In North Carolina, drivers over 21 can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08 percent or higher. Commercial drivers can be charged with a BAC of .04 percent or above. Underage drunk drivers can be charged with a similar offense known as Drive After Consuming with any detectable amount of alcohol or controlled substances in their system.
Law enforcement officers typically obtain evidence of intoxication through blood alcohol or breathalyzer tests after pulling a suspected driver over. Prosecutors use blood and breath tests to prove that the defendant has committed a DWI and should be convicted. Challenging a blood or breath test is an important part of defending yourself if you’ve been charged with a DWI.
North Carolina’s Implied Consent Laws
If a police officer asks you to take a blood alcohol test, you are obligated to take the test under North Carolina’s implied consent laws. You can refuse to take the test, but you will lose your driver’s license immediately for up to one year. The choice to refuse to take a test is up to you, but you should ensure that you don’t risk incriminating yourself by admitting you’ve been drinking to the police officer. You have the right to remain silent when police officers ask you questions.
Challenging a Breathalyzer Test
Due to North Carolina’s implied consent law, you must take a breathalyzer test when an officer requests one during a traffic stop or an accident scene. If you refuse, your driver’s license could be suspended. However, you still have rights when taking the test. Law enforcement officers must comply with rigid rules when administering a breathalyzer test. When law enforcement officers do not follow these guidelines, the defendant can argue that the judge should exclude the breathalyzer test evidence, potentially resulting in a dismissal of the DWI charges. For example, a law enforcement officer must observe the suspect for a minimum of 20 minutes before he or she administers the breathalyzer test. Additionally, the suspect is entitled to have a witness present during the breathalyzer test. The officer must wait at least 30 minutes for the witness to arrive.
The officer administering the test needs to be trained in how to administer the test and follow all of the procedures required for conducting the test. Finally, for the test results to be admissible in court, the police officer must administer two breathalyzer tests, and the results of the tests must be within .02 percent of each other. If any of these requirements haven’t been met, the defendant can challenge the results of the breathalyzer test.
False Breathalyzer Test Readings
Breathalyzer tests aren’t the most accurate way to measure BAC, and multiple circumstances can cause the breathalyzer to indicate intoxication when the suspect isn’t intoxicated. For example, vomiting within 20 minutes of the test, certain types of medication, mouthwashes, and some breath fresheners can all cause false readings. Also, the breathalyzer machine must be well maintained and properly calibrated, or the test results can be skewed. If you suspect your breathalyzer results are inaccurate, you should reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Challenging a Blood Test
Blood tests are much more challenging to administer than breathalyzer tests and are used less often. Due to implied consent laws, suspects must submit to blood tests. If they don’t, they may lose their driver’s license. Even those who refuse the blood test can sometimes be forced to provide a sample. Law enforcement can attempt to obtain a search warrant to conduct a blood test.
Although blood tests are more accurate than breathalyzer tests, the results can be skewed in several ways. When blood samples aren’t stored properly, the reading can be inaccurate. Additionally, the results can be skewed when the equipment isn’t properly sterilized or possesses the training to perform a blood draw accurately. In some cases, blood samples are swapped with other samples.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Charged With a DWI After Any Blood and Breath Tests in North Carolina?
If you’ve been charged with a DWI and subjected to a blood or breath test, you may be wondering what steps you should take next. When you discuss your case with law enforcement, it’s crucial that you exercise your right to remain silent. You have a right to an attorney and should exercise that right. As soon as possible, you should discuss your case with an attorney who can begin assessing whether the blood or breathalyzer test was contaminated, misinterpreted, or incorrectly administered.
Charged with a DWI? Contact an Experienced DWI Attorney
Failing a blood or alcohol test doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be convicted of a DWI. The sooner you reach out to a skilled DWI defense attorney, the better. Discussing the details of your case and your legal options with an experienced attorney is crucial. Attorney Joel Hancock has an in-depth understanding of the North Carolina court system, DWI laws, and the best defenses to DWI charges. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your free initial consultation.