Drivers in North Carolina can become understandably confused when there are questions about their rights during a traffic stop and what traffic offenses they can face. If a law enforcement officer makes a stop or is investigating a potential incident of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is an easy mistake to make to believe that the driver has the right to refuse to submit to a breath or chemical test. The law, however, says otherwise. Understanding this law and the charges a person might face for refusal is important when planning a defense.
When a person is driving in public, there is an automatic implied consent to be tested. The officer must have reasonable grounds to make this charge and to obtain a chemical analysis. Prior to administering the test, the person will be brought before a chemical analyst or a law enforcement officer who has authorization to give the test. The person to be tested will be informed both orally and in writing that they have been charged with a violation of the implied consent law and that they can refuse to take the test, but in doing so they will have their driver’s license suspended for a one year or longer based on the circumstances. The officer can still order the test.
These test results or the act of refusal are admissible when the person goes to trial. When refusal takes place, the driving privileges will be automatically revoked for 30 days. There will also be a 30-day suspension should the test be taken and the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. A commercial driver license will be suspended if it is 0.04 or higher. For a driver under the age of 21, it will be suspended if the BAC is 0.01 or higher. Once the driver has been released, he or she can ask to have their own test. If calling an attorney and a witness to watch the tests, but it cannot be delayed for more than 30 minutes from being notified of these rights. The test must be taken after those 30 minutes.
While a person who is charged with refusal might not even be under the influence at the time, there will still be penalties for refusing to take the test when requested to do so. Since the officer must have reasonable grounds, there are strategies that can be used to lodge a defense against these traffic offenses. Whether there was also a DWI charge or not, having a qualified lawyer experienced in defending against these charges is essential.