What’s up? I’m attorney Derek Gray of Graystar Legal. We are a criminal law firm located in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and this is our FAQ series.
Today’s question is also going to deal with driving while impaired, or DWI charges for short. The question is: If I’ve been charged with a DWI, what will happen if I refuse the blood or breath test?
First and foremost, we always start with North Carolina law. And this case is going to be North Carolina general statute 20-16.2, which deals with refusals. In a situation where you are offered a breath test and you decide to refuse it, separate and apart from the criminal charge, the DMV will suspend your license for one year if they deem the officer to have reasonable grounds to believe that you committed an implied consent offense.
“Reasonable grounds” is the same as probable cause. Again, be aware that this is separate and apart from the criminal charge of a DWI offense. You don’t have to be convicted of it. This can happen during the process—just being charged with the DWI.
The cases can end up being dismissed – after the fact you can be found not guilty – and your license will still be revoked for a year.
There is a process by which you can have a DMV hearing in order to fight against the license suspension or revocation. Remember that the officer is claiming you refused.
There are a few situations in which a DWI stop will be logged as a sobriety test refusal:
That’s something you can do a DMV hearing about and actually try to fight it and get the DMV to overturn that yearlong DWI suspension.
But the long and short of it is, if you refuse a blood or breath test and the state and the officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you committed an implied consent offense, your license will be suspended for one year.
I hope this answers your question about sobriety test refusal in North Carolina. I wanted to keep it short and sweet, but feel free to check out the statute. If you have any follow up or further questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. You all take care.