What Happens If I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, all drivers are subject to an “implied consent” law. This law says that any driver who is arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) is required to submit to breathalyzer testing to determine blood alcohol level (BAC). This implied consent also refers to other chemical testing to determine the presence of drugs.


Pulled Over for DUI? Here’s What to Expect

If you get pulled over for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the arresting officer must inform you of the Implied Consent Advisement. This advisement informs drivers of their rights and possible consequences under the implied consent law.


  1. You have the right to refuse testing, but the refusal will result in the immediate revocation of your license for at least one year
  2. If your test shows .08 BAC or higher, you will have your license revoked for at least 30 days
  3. You have the right to contact a DWI attorney and have a witness present to observe the testing
  4. You have the right to take an independent alcohol test upon release
  5. The arresting officer will typically require you to sign a form confirming that you were advised and that you understand your rights and potential consequences


Breath Testing. Any driver who is stopped for suspected DUI can expect the officer to request a breathalyzer test before making an arrest. After the arrest, the officer will often request that the driver take a second, more accurate breath test at the police station. The results of the second test are typically used in court to prove DWI.


Blood Testing. Law enforcement officers have the right to request a blood alcohol test instead of, and in addition to, a breath test. If a driver refuses a blood test or is unconscious, a warrant would be needed to force the blood test. FYI: If convicted of DWI based on a blood test, the driver must pay the lab fee. This fee alone can often be more than the cost of a good DWI lawyer!

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 20-16.2, 20-16.3, 20-139.1 (2017).)



So Here’s What Happens When You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer

If you think refusing a breathalyzer test is going to buy you some time and possibly change the outcome of the charges against you, think again. Even if you are found not guilty of DWI in criminal court, the one-year revocation for refusing the testing is still in effect! Kind of a darned if you do, darned if you don’t situation isn’t it? But wait, there’s more.


Refusing to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test regarding a DWI charge isn’t a criminal offense.

But. The fact that a driver refuses testing is admissible in criminal court as evidence to prove a DWI charge. This means that the State can still prove its case without the results of a BAC or drug test. Although criminal penalties aren’t imposed for chemical test refusals, the fact that a driver refused testing is generally admissible in criminal court to prove a DWI.


So, the State may still be able to prove its case even without the results of a chemical test indicating the driver’s blood alcohol content!

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 20-16.2, 20-16.5 (2017).)

The consequences of DWI can be severe, and in some cases, the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer can be just as bad. If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: you have the right to contact an attorney before everything gets out of hand, so call the Jason Reece Law Firm in Charlotte. We have a lot of experience with everything we’ve talked about today and have successfully defended many clients in cases just like these.