When you are suspected of impaired driving, there may be several types of tests that are used to evaluate you. The penalty for refusing to submit to a sobriety test depends on the type of test that was refused. You may be able to fight the charges against you by consulting the capable DWI lawyers at Crosswhite, Crosswhite & Johnson, PLLC. We have vast experience representing individuals near Statesville and in other areas of North Carolina, including Mooresville, Troutman, and throughout Davie and Alexander Counties.The Standardized Field Sobriety Test
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a series of tests that were designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In there tests, an officer may ask you to watch a pencil, his finger, or a flashlight moving across your field of view, walk heel-to-toe and turn, and stand on one leg. Scientific evaluations have shown that even when administered correctly, SFST testing is far from a perfect science. Moreover, officers often administer the test incorrectly, and they may even improvise their own non-standardized tests, such as having you close your eyes and touch your nose.The Handheld “Breathalyzer” Test
The initial handheld blood alcohol “breathalyzer” test is used to obtain further probable cause for your arrest, and in the hope that adverse test results will provide useful evidence in court. You can refuse this test, but the officer may still arrest you because the officer can interpret your refusal as probable cause to arrest you. Once you are arrested, the officer will usually subject you to the most important test, which is the Intoximeter test.The Intoximeter Test and Blood Test
The Intoximeter test is typically administered on a large Intox EC/IR II “Intoximeter” breath test machine. It is usually encountered at the police station, but it is sometimes found at a roadblock or in a special vehicle called the “Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile” or “BAT-Mobile.” The arresting officer also has the authority to designate the type of test or tests to be given, including a blood test..
The officer is required to inform you that North Carolina’s “implied consent” law states that you can refuse this test, but you may suffer serious penalties for your refusal. The officer must also allow you to call someone to come and witness the test, and you must be given up to 30 minutes for that person to show up.
If you willfully refuse either of these tests (Intoximeter or blood), your driving privilege will be immediately suspended for six months. For these six months, you cannot even obtain a limited privilege to drive to work, doctor’s appointments, or school. Refusal to provide a breath or blood sample has separate consequences from DWI, and you may suffer those consequences of refusing even if you win your DWI case.Arguing Your DWI or Refusal Case
If you have been charged with refusal of an Intoximeter or blood test, you normally have just 10 days to file for a hearing to dispute the charge. You should also begin preparing to argue your case for a restricted privilege, sometimes called a “hardship license,” so that you can try to get back on the road again once six months have elapsed.
Despite the charge of “willful refusal,” you may still have some defenses. The officer may have stopped you illegally or failed to give the required notifications about North Carolina’s implied consent law. Some people also have medical conditions, such as COPD, that may prevent them from adequately blowing into the Intoximeter equipment.Seek Guidance from a Statesville Lawyer When Fighting Criminal Charges
In order to fully understand your options when you are facing prosecution in Iredell County, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney who can explain the particulars of your case. Call Crosswhite, Crosswhite & Johnson, PLLC at (704) 873-7233 for a free consultation. You may also use the contact form located on this page. We represent clients throughout North Carolina, including Winston-Salem and Charlotte.