After being charged with driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina, an officer can request that you submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. DWI test refusal can lead to significant consequences, including a suspended or revoked driver’s license. If you’ve refused a DWI test, working with an attorney can help you protect your driving privileges.
Arrested After a DWI Test Refusal in North Carolina? We Can Help
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving and refused a DWI test, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Joel Hancock can fight for you to keep your driver’s license. He will work diligently to protect your driving privileges and defend you against a DWI conviction. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation to learn more about your legal rights.
What Happens If I Refuse a DWI Test in North Carolina?
Drivers in North Carolina have a right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, but they can suffer consequences for their refusal. North Carolina and many other states have an implied consent law. The implied consent law states that all drivers in North Carolina agree to consent to a breathalyzer test if they’re arrested for a DWI in exchange for being able to drive in the state.
If a driver refuses to consent to a breathalyzer test after they’ve been arrested for a DWI, they won’t face separate criminal charges. However, refusing to submit to a test can result in a civil penalty. North Carolina can revoke a person’s driver’s license for one year. According to North Carolina General Statute §20-16.2, drivers arrested for the following charges will face a driver’s license suspension if they refuse to submit to a DWI test:
- Driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs
- Driving with an open alcohol container in the vehicle
- Driving in violation of an ignition interlock restriction
- Driving after consuming alcohol while under age 21
Portable Breath Tests in North Carolina
Police officers frequently rely on portable DWI tests to determine whether they have probable cause to arrest a driver for a DWI. Suppose a driver refuses to submit to the Alco-Sensor portable breath test (PBT) that police officers use for roadside testing. In that case, the driver’s license won’t be suspended unless he or she is convicted of a DWI. In other words, the DMV can’t suspend your license if you refused to submit to a PBT test and the court did not convict you of a DWI. If you are convicted, you can face a suspension of your driver’s license, but you still have the right to challenge the suspension.
Defending Yourself in Your DWI Refusal Test Hearing
Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test in an authorized place generally results in an immediate license suspension. The arresting police officer will typically confiscate the driver’s driver’s license. After you refuse to submit to a DWI test, you will receive a mail notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The notice will state that your license will be suspended for one year. After receiving notice of the driver’s license suspension, you can appeal the suspension. There is an extremely short time frame in which you can request a hearing regarding your driver’s license suspension.
It’s crucial that you send a hearing request form to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, along with a money order for the applicable fee, which is currently $450. Generally, you only have 30 days to submit a notice that you intend to appeal your suspension.
Understanding Your Rights
North Carolina has an implied consent law, but that doesn’t mean DWI suspects give up all of their constitutional rights. On the contrary, drivers have several important rights regarding chemical testing after being arrested for a DWI. You have the right to call an attorney and obtain legal advice.
You can also ask for an attorney and a witness to view the testing. However, the testing cannot be delayed for more than 30 minutes from when the police officer notifies you of your right to have a witness present during the testing. If you’ve been arrested, it’s worth contacting your attorney and a witness and waiting for them to arrive to witness the test.
Additionally, drivers have the right to seek an independent chemical test in addition to the tasks performed by the police after they are released. If the police officer who arrested you delayed your release, you might have a valid argument that your right to gather evidence on your own has been violated.
Defending a DWI Test Refusal in North Carolina
Several legal defenses can be used to fight against a driver’s license suspension for refusing to submit to a DWI test. Drivers have the right to present evidence and call witnesses to the stand during their driver’s license suspension hearing. Working with an attorney is important because an attorney can help you provide evidence that the court should not suspend your driver’s license.
In some cases, the arresting officer did not have enough probable cause to arrest the driver for a DWI. Without probable cause for the arrest, the defendant can challenge the driver’s license suspension. Additionally, if the arresting officer failed to comply with North Carolina’s Implied Consent Notice of Rights, the driver can use this failure to argue against a driver’s license suspension.
When a driver doesn’t succeed in his or her driver’s license suspension hearing, the driver may be able to request limited hardship or work privileges. Granting these exceptions is up to the court’s discretion. Working with an experienced attorney can increase the likelihood of success.
Discuss Your Case with a Skilled DWI Defense Attorney
Refusing to take a DWI test after an arrest can have significant consequences, including losing driving privileges. If you’ve been arrested for a DWI, it’s crucial that you discuss your case with a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Joel Hancock will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. After discussing your case with you, he will develop an effective defense strategy. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.
Hancock Law Firm serves residents in Beaufort, Morehead City, and throughout all of Carteret County.