If law enforcement suspects drivers of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and places them under arrest, they will ask the drivers to submit to chemical testing to determine their blood alcohol concentration level. This may involve them providing a breath, blood or urine sample for testing. While it may seem an intrusive request, refusal may carry separate and additional consequences.
Understanding the state’s implied consent law may help drivers protect their rights and avoid facing unnecessary criminal penalties after a suspected DWI stop.
Agreeing to chemical testing
According to state law, implied consent dictates that anyone who drives in the state, by doing so, agrees to submit to BAC chemical testing. Thus, after law enforcement charges them with drunk driving, people must provide the requested sample for analysis. While drivers may refuse to give samples for BAC testing with consequences, law enforcement may still compel them to cooperate. Additionally, the authorities may present their refusals as evidence of their intoxication at trial.
Refusing to submit to testing
According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, should drivers refuse chemical testing after a DWI arrest, they may face consequences on top of those that the court may assess if they plead guilty or the court convicts them of driving a vehicle while intoxicated. The penalties people may face for a chemical test refusal include a driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 30 days. The Department of Motor Vehicles will also suspend their driving privileges for at least 12 months due to a willful refusal.
After six months, the court may see fit to restore people’s driving privileges on a limited basis. The reinstatement of drivers’ licenses in this instance or upon the completion of their suspension period may carry a BAC restriction. This restriction reduces the legal BAC limit for drivers based on their prior alcohol-related driving records.