You enjoyed a couple glasses of wine with dinner, and then you drove home. You didn’t think anything of it until you were stopped at a checkpoint. You hand the police officer your license and registration. The officer asks, “Have you been drinking tonight?” And you answer honestly, thinking nothing of it. Then, the officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test. You can say no, right? Before you do, there are some things you need to know about refusing a breathalyzer test in North Carolina.
Is a Breathalyzer Optional?
First, understand a police officer will only request a breathalyzer test if he or she suspects you are driving while intoxicated. It’s unlikely they will ask if there are no indications to support the possibility of a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) being over the legal limit. Indulging in two or more drinks, even while eating dinner, can potentially put your blood alcohol level over the legal limit.
It is your right to refuse a breathalyzer, which essentially makes it optional. But a refusal is not always the best course of action.
3 Facts about Taking a Breathalyzer
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer in the state of North Carolina, the consequences are serious. You will lose your license for one year, and this loss isn’t necessarily worth it. Consider:
- Refusal Helps: False. If you have never been charged with and convicted of a DWI, refusing to take a breathalyzer does not make a charge easier to beat. If you blow over the legal limit and are charged, the fact that you took the test coupled with the charge being your first creates a better outcome. You can often keep driving legally, but under limited driving privilege.
- Refusal Negates a Charge: False. Just because you refuse, does not mean you’re in the clear. The state can order a hospital performed blood test in place of the breathalyzer. The blood test will give the state your BAC, and you will then be counted as refusing the test on top of driving while under the influence. In essence, you land in the worst of both worlds.
- It’s Not an Admission of Guilt: True. Just because you are asked to take the test, does not mean you will blow over the legal limit. Accepting the test does not automatically make you guilty, and it does not instantly label you as an alcoholic. Sometimes we make bad decisions, and it’s through these decisions that we learn our limits.
Seeking Legal Advice
Whether to take or refuse a breathalyzer can depend on your individual circumstances. If it’s a question of concern, you should seek qualified legal advice from an attorney with DWI and DUI experience.
If you have been charged with a DWI, it is imperative to hire a DWI attorney. They will be able to handle your NC DWI and assist in handling situations that ensue. But the best and safest policy is always to avoid driving after drinking.