It’s a scary decision to make. The lights flash, you pull over, and the police officer asks you a question or two. Then he says, “I’d like you to take a breathalyzer test.”

You have seconds to decide. What do you do?

There are those who tell you not to take it. For them, refusing a breathalyzer test is like remaining silent after an arrest – a way to keep from incriminating yourself. And refusing a breath test is not illegal in itself.

However, there are a number of reasons why you should not refuse a DWI breath test. It all boils down to something called implied consent. When you receive your driver’s license, you are agreeing to take a blood or breath test if an officer has a good reason to believe you are driving while impaired. The test can be requested before or after you‘ve been arrested. You can refuse the roadside breath test without penalties, but the officer can bring you to the station for an official breath test on specified equipment. Refusing that test is breaking the implied consent agreement.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test in North Carolina, you

  • You will lose your license for 12 months.
  • You will pay a fine
  • You might be required to perform community service

Plus – you can still be convicted of DWI in North Carolina, even without the test. If there is enough evidence of impairment, a prosecutor can obtain a conviction even without a BAC number. And juries are allowed to consider test refusal evidence of guilt.

Ultimately, it’s your decision whether to take the breath test. And remember that it’s also your decision whether to drink and drive. Avoid impaired driving, and you won’t have to worry about the North Carolina DWI breath test.

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