I Refused the Breath Test Now What?

Police Car

When someone has been charged with a DWI in North Carolina and refuses the breathalyzer test potential consequences arise. In North Carolina when someone refuses a breathalyzer test a potential 1 (one) year suspension of one’s driver’s license is on the table. It is not automatic that one’s driver’s license gets suspended for 1 (one) year, the NC DMV must give a person a hearing opportunity to contest the 1-year suspension. It is very important for a person to have their current address where they are living on their current driver’s license. When a person refused a breathalyzer the DMV will send a letter to the person to put them on notice that they will be revoking their license for 1 (one) year. This letter, it has the instructions to request a refusal hearing. The letter normally gives a person a very limited time to request a hearing, so it is very important to act fast. If you do NOT request the DMV hearing the 1 (one) year suspension automatically goes into place. In order to request a hearing a person must send a request to the NC DMV and send them a fee for the hearing. At an NC DMV hearing the sole question for a contested refusal of a breath test is “was the refusal of a breathalyzer test WILLFUL?” At the DMV hearing if the refusal of the breath test is found to be willful the license will be revoked for 1 (one) year. If it is found NOT to be willful the suspension of a person’s driver’s license will NOT go into effect.


The breathalyzer machine requires a deep lung sample of air to register a reading. In order to provide a deep lung sample of air a person has to have the lung capacity to achieve this. There are cases where people are trying to blow as hard as they can into a machine, however, a sample is not achieved. Under this situation, it could be argued the person did NOT willfully refuse the breathalyzer test. In addition, at the DMV hearing the officer who arrested and provided the breathalyzer test must be at the hearing. Sometimes officers will not show up at the DMV hearing and therefore the 1 (one) year suspension will NOT go into place. Last, at the hearing, an officer must convince the DMV officer he or she had the right to bring a person in front of a breathalyzer machine.


  1. Make sure the address on your driver’s license is where you are currently living. The NC DMV will send the refusal letter to the address on your driver’s license.
  1. Request a HEARING. As shown and stated above a hearing gives you an opportunity to keep your driver’s license. You must request a hearing right away because there is a time limit on requesting a hearing.
  1. Hire a LAWYER. A lawyer who has experience with DMV refusal hearings can really bring value to your case.