What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test?

Drivers often worry about being pulled over by a police officer. This can be even more daunting for a person who was out having a few drinks.

Being pulled over by a police officer because he or she suspects you are driving while intoxicated (DWI) is scary for many people. Often, the police will request that a driver submit to a breath, sobriety, urine or blood test. While you are not legally required to take these tests, the truth is refusing can cause some serious problems.

So, what happens if the police officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated and asks you to take a breath test? What are the consequences if you say no?

The penalties for not taking a breath or chemical test

In North Carolina, there are implied consent laws in place. Implied consent means that when you receive a driver’s license, you are consenting to chemical analyses.

However, in this and almost every other state in the U.S., a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher can be arrested for suspected drunk driving. As such, some drivers refuse to take a breath or chemical test because they are fearful that it will show their BAC is above the legal limit.

While a person can refuse, doing so is a violation of implied consent laws, and there are numerous consequences for refusing a breath or chemical test.

  • You could lose your license for a year or more.
  • You could face added costs and efforts to defend yourself and get your license back.
  • The refusal could be used as an indication of intoxication, which prosecutors might use against you in court. The prosecutor can also use observations by the police officer as evidence.

Hopefully, having the right information can help drivers make informed decisions.

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