PLEASE NOTE: Our office remains open at this time. To protect your safety in response to the threat of COVID-19, we are offering our clients and potential clients the ability to meet with us via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options. 

Attorney J. Darren Byers Headshot

Let Us Do The Worrying For You

What is a chemical test for DWI and can you refuse it?

Chemical tests are a critical piece of evidence in a North Carolina DWI case.

This is why it is important for you to understand the use of chemical testing and your right to refuse.

Types of chemical tests

Typically, the officers who pull you over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated will ask you to participate in field sobriety testing. You can refuse and often should refuse, but they will likely ask you to submit to chemical testing. The three forms of chemical tests include:

  1. Breath tests, which measure blood alcohol content through a breathing device
  2. Urine tests, which can also test for drugs
  3. Blood tests, which are more invasive but more accurate

The breath test can be inaccurate. For example, individuals on certain medications may test positive for alcohol without ever having a drink.

Implied consent and consequences for refusing a chemical test

Under North Carolina law, if the officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence, you have already provided implied consent to a blood or breath test just by your presence on a public road.

However, if you refuse to provide one, the officer should inform you in writing that the consequence is an automatic suspension of your license for a year. If it is your first chemical test refusal, you could receive some driving privileges after the half-year mark.

A common misconception is that a DWI charge and arrest is an automatic conviction. You will still receive your day in court and have a chance to argue your side.