Implied Consent in North Carolina

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Even though most drivers may not be aware of it, everyone with a North Carolina driver’s license has agreed to allow police to test their blood alcohol content (BAC) if they are stopped in suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). Under North Carolina law, drivers provide what is known as their implied consent to BAC testing – either by blood or by breath – in exchange for their driving privileges. Although a conviction for DUI can carry stiff penalties, the consequences can be even more severe if the driver has refused to take a BAC test at the time of arrest.

Police officers in North Carolina may not select drivers at random to for BAC tests. Rather, an officer must have reasonable cause to suspect that someone is driving under the influence. This reasonable cause may arise from a number of factors, including failure to obey traffic signals, swerving in and out of traffic lines, or speeding.

Under North Carolina law, an officer may require a person to take a BAC test at any relevant time after driving. Though the definition of ‘relevant time’ is unclear, courts have upheld an officer’s request for a BAC test as late as three hours and 45 minutes after a person has been driving.

Refusing the Test Can Bring Serious Penalties

Before administering the BAC test, officers are required to supply drivers with notice in writing that they will lose their licenses for one year if they do not submit to the test. Drivers are allowed to consult with an attorney and to have a witness present at the test, but may not delay the test for more than 30 minutes.

If a driver refuses to submit to the BAC test, his license is automatically suspended for one year. A driver may, however, request a hearing to determine, among other issues, whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe an implied consent offense was committed and whether he provided the required notice of rights. If these requirements were not met, then the license suspension may be rescinded.

A DUI Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced DUI attorney. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer can assess your case and help you protect your rights. For more information about what a DUI lawyer can do for you, contact an attorney today.