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What is North Carolina’s implied consent law?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Evidence usually plays the biggest role in a DWI case. And an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is often the most important component of evidence in the prosecution’s case.

This is why many people wonder if they can refuse BAC testing. While individuals often can refuse standardized field sobriety tests, refusing chemical BAC tests is different since individuals give their implied consent to participate in these tests under the law.

What does implied consent mean?

Essentially, implied consent laws indicate that drivers give their consent to take chemical or blood tests if the police arrest them on DWI charges. Individuals give this implicit consent when they apply for a driver’s license and drive on North Carolina roads.

There are several implied consent offenses individuals could face under North Carolina law. All of these offenses involve impairment from alcohol or illegal substances, including:

  • Driving while impaired;
  • Underage DWI; or
  • Vehicular manslaughter.

Not many people are aware of how implied consent laws affect them, but it is critical for all drivers to understand them. After all, it is a risk factor every time individuals get behind the wheel.

Can you refuse a chemical test?

Implied consent is the reason why refusing a chemical test is an offense. Technically, individuals do have a choice, but the implied consent to submit to chemical testing under the law also means that the choice to refuse testing can have serious repercussions.

Even though there are no criminal penalties that result from refusing a chemical test, there are still consequences, including:

  • License revocation for up to one year, depending on the outcome of the hearing; and
  • The refusal to submit to chemical testing can be used in court as evidence.

Even though drivers give their implied consent to participate in testing, they still have rights in these situations. North Carolina law allows individuals to contact an attorney and have a witness present for the chemical testing procedure.

This is why individuals facing DWI charges of any kind should consult an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible, so they can understand their options in these cases and protect their rights.