What if You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

kurtz-and-blumThere is a possibility that you will be flagged down on suspicion of DWI, and the responding law enforcer will order you to undergo a breathalyzer test at the police station. Federal law mandates a 0.08% blood alcohol content threshold. What if you refuse the breathalyzer test despite being read your rights and your lawyer is present through it all?

If this happens, your officer can warn you that doing so will not carry criminal consequences, but the state Department of Motor Vehicles will revoke your license for one year. As stated in North Carolina’s implied-consent law, NCGS § 20-16.2, written notifications will be sent to you and the order will be in effect within ten days of the mailing unless you seek a hearing. You will not be ordered to surrender your license in the meantime.

At the hearing, the arresting officer can ask the judge to subpoena the defendant for any relevant documents. The defense can use it to their advantage by helping establish that the authorities could not prove that the defendant committed an implied-consent offense, was not properly read their rights, or was forced to commit to a breathalyzer test. The judge can scrap the revocation if the authorities did not follow proper procedure.

Refusing the breathalyzer test may be within the person’s rights if the arrest itself was not done in accordance with regulations. However, the price for doing so can be stiff if the defense’s case doesn’t hold.


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