Do I Have to Take a Blood Test During a DWI Arrest?

Prosecutors often rely on chemical blood alcohol tests in order to prove a driving while under the influence (DWI) charge. Most North Carolina DWI cases include evidence from breathalyzer tests or blood alcohol tests. According to North Carolina law, all people who drive on the highway give implied consent to a blood alcohol test when arrested for a DWI. While many law enforcement officers choose to administer breathalyzer tests, some always choose to administer blood tests. What happens when a North Carolina driver refuses to submit to a blood-alcohol test? While drivers do have a right to refuse the DWI breath and blood tests, they will face serious consequences for doing so.

Refusing a Blood Alcohol Test for a DWI in North Carolina

By law, North Carolina law enforcement officers must notify drivers that they have a right to refuse a blood-alcohol test. In other words, all drivers give their consent to a drug or alcohol test whether or not they wish to do so when they drive a car in North Carolina. When the driver does refuse to consent to a blood-alcohol test, law enforcement officers cannot subject the defendant to a blood test. When a driver refuses a blood test, a law enforcement officer must obtain a search warrant before administering the test.

Law Enforcement Must Provide You With a Written Notice Regarding Your Rights

Police officers must provide the driver with written notice of his or her specific rights in relation to blood-alcohol tests. The written notice must advise the driver of all of the following:

  • Law enforcement are charging the driver with an implied consent offense
  • The driver has a right to refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test
  • Refusal to submit to a test will result in a license revocation of at least one year
  • A law enforcement officer can issue the tests under other North Carolina laws
  • When a test shows a BAC of .08 or higher, the suspect’s license will be revoked for at least 30 days
  • The suspect has the right to request an independent alcohol test (in addition to the test administered by law enforcement) after the suspect’s release
  • The driver has the right to contact an attorney, and the driver has a right to have a witness present at the blood alcohol testing as long as exercising these rights does not delay the blood alcohol testing over 30 minutes
The Process of a DWI Arrest in North Carolina

When a police officer stops someone on suspicion of DWI in North Carolina, the officer will often ask the suspect to take a breathalyzer test. Suspects have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test with no adverse consequences. Law enforcement cannot suspend their driver’s license for refusal to take a breathalyzer test. However, law enforcement officers can still arrest a suspect if they have probable cause to believe that the suspect was driving while under the influence.

At the police station, the officer can ask you to take a more accurate blood test. The officer must provide the written notice mentioned above and you must sign the written notice. If you refuse to take the blood test or you are unconscious at the time, the police officer must obtain a warrant in order to take a blood sample.

Should You Refuse a North Carolina BWI Blood Test or Breathalyzer Test?

Drivers do have the right to refuse a blood or breathalyzer test. However, doing so can result in a driver’s license revocation for at least a year. Suspects who refuse the test will not face criminal charges based on refusing the test. The license revocation process is a civil matter that is separate from a DWI charge. Even when a defendant is found not guilty, or his or her charges have been dismissed, he or she can still face license revocation for refusal to submit to the test.

Additionally, North Carolina prosecutors often introduce your refusal to take the DWI test as evidence in a DWI hearing. Evidence of a refusal to take a DWI test can be compelling to a jury. Some jurors may consider refusing to take the test as evidence of guilt. Refusal to take the test could also make it more difficult for your Charlotte DWI defense lawyer to argue your case and negotiate favorably with the prosecution. If you have been charged with a Charlotte DWI, our lawyers can help. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.