When drivers are pulled over in North Carolina for suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer at the scene may decide that it is necessary to administer a Breathalyzer test. Can a driver refuse to take it?

While it is not illegal to refuse, you may face serious consequences if you don’t take the Breathalyzer test. This is because many states have what is called an “implied consent” law. Under this law, any driver on a public road automatically consents to a Breathalyzer test simply by being on the road. You consent by virtue of having a driver’s license in North Carolina. If you refuse, you may have your driving license suspended even if the initial DUI-related charges are dismissed. While the penalties for DUI/DWI may be severe – fines, jail term, your name printed in the local newspaper – can you keep your job if you lose your license?

Blood tests, on the other hand, are more intrusive and have lead to some privacy and safety concerns from the public. Often, officers must obtain a warrant before taking blood for these tests in most cases.

If you refuse a breath test when pulled over, realize that you may automatically lose your license for a year. Decide before you drive what you will do if you are pulled over for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). If you are arrested, know your legal options.