Being asked to consent to a field sobriety test in North Carolina can be very stressful. You may not know what to do or what your rights are. Field sobriety tests are often conducted at traffic stops, where police officers suspect drivers of being intoxicated. These tests include things such as walking heel to toe, counting backward from 100 by 7s, reciting the alphabet, and answering questions correctly. The officer administering the test has discretion over whether or not he or she wants to administer these tests. If you refuse to take one of these field sobriety tests, it can be used against you in court.
If you are traveling in North Carolina and have been pulled over by a police officer or highway patrol, you may be suspected of DWI- Driving While Intoxicated. If you are being asked to take a field sobriety test in North Carolina, here are some things to know about field sobriety tests and your rights in North Carolina.
How Field Sobriety Tests Work in the State of North Carolina
The field sobriety tests in North Carolina are used to determine whether someone has been drinking alcohol. They are administered by police officers during traffic stops and other situations where there is suspicion about driving under the influence of alcohol or maybe other substances.
In North Carolina, standard field sobriety tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. These tests help police officers identify signs of intoxication such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness while walking, swaying or staggering, and inability to follow instructions.
North Carolina’s Implied Consent Law
The law says that anyone operating a motor vehicle in NC must submit to a chemical analysis if they are arrested for driving while impaired (DWI), according to NCGS §20-4(1). However, there are exceptions to the mandatory testing requirement:
● If the person is unconscious, incapacitated, dead, or otherwise incapable of consenting to a chemical test
● If the officer did not observe signs of impairment
● If you have not yet been arrested
When the Implied Consent Law is in Effect
The implied consent law is now in effect in North Carolina. This means that drivers are legally obligated to submit to a chemical sobriety test after being arrested for driving while impaired. A driver cannot refuse to submit to a test.
The state does allow officers to administer field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests prior to an arrest. However, drivers can decline to take these tests. This does not mean that the officer won’t arrest you for DWI.
Penalties for Refusing a Sobriety Test
If you refuse to take a sobriety test, it could mean losing your driving privileges. This is because if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, officers can obtain a warrant and draw a blood sample from you. In North Carolina, if you refuse to take a blood test, you lose your license for at least 30 days. The state’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to chemical tests upon request from police.
Never Waive your Rights
The law requires police officers to inform motorists of their legal rights upon being stopped for traffic violations. This includes informing drivers that they have the right to refuse certain tests and that refusing such tests could result in revocation of their driver’s licenses.
You should never waive your rights when asked to do so by a police officer. It is important to know what your rights are before speaking with the officer. You have the right to remain silent. Do not answer questions without first consulting an attorney.
Defending a DWI refusal in North Carolina
If you are convicted of a DWI, you could face both civil and criminal consequences. In addition to losing your driver’s license, you could receive fines, jail time, or probation.
If you refuse the test, you may still have grounds to challenge the validity of the arrest. Your attorney can help you prepare for an administrative hearing, where you can argue that the police did not have adequate evidence to stop you. At the hearing, your attorney can present evidence that proves that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.
Consult a DWI Attorney in North Carolina
If you have a good DWI attorney like Dewey Brinkley, your attorney can defend against the charges and help you avoid a conviction. An experienced DWI lawyer should work hard to prove that the officer did not have enough evidence to stop you or challenge the prosecutor’s evidence presented against you.
If you have been arrested for a DWI and decided not to consent to a field sobriety test in North Carolina, contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley at (919) 832-0307 or use the online form. As a Raleigh based North Carolina DWI defense attorney, Mr. Brinkley works zealously to defend the rights of those accused of criminal acts. It’s important to have the best legal representation possible when facing possible DWI charges.