Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer Test if I’m Pulled Over?

There is a lot of bad advice out there when it comes to how to deal with law enforcement. Much of the advice you hear online and from friends and family are nothing short of urban legends. Many of these urban legends are about what to do if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI. For instance, should you or should you not take a breathalyzer test if you are pulled over?

Should you consent to a breath test?  No and Maybe.  Never consent to any analysis of your breath on the road side.  An officer may request that you blow into a portable device that they carry in their patrol cars.   REFUSE.  There are no consequences to you for not agreeing to blow on the portable breath device.  If you are arrested and taken to the jail or a police substation and asked to submit a blow on a machine called the EC/IR II after an officer has first read your rights, the decision whether or not to cooperation is not easy.

Legally Required?

First of all, is there a legal requirement that a person suspected of drunk driving provide a breath sample? In North Carolina, there is an implied consent law. Implied consent means that if you are using the roads of the state, you consent to a chemical analysis of your blood if an officer reasonably believes that you committed a DUI offense. To put it another way, if you’re pulled over for DUI in North Carolina, you have already agreed to a breathalyzer test.

That does not mean that an officer can force you to give a breath test. In fact, the officer will have to inform you that you can refuse the test. The officer will also have to inform you that if you refuse you will have your driver’s license revoked for one year and your refusal can be used in court as evidence against you. The officer must also tell you that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can be compelled by a warrant to give a sample of your blood which will be analyzed by the state crime lab (SBI) or CCBI.

Before being asked to provide a sample of your breath, you must be informed that you may call an attorney for advice and select a witness to come watch the testing procedure. The officer must give 30 minutes for your witness or attorney to arrive.  Take very single minute.

Refusing a Breath Test

To be clear, you are subject to penalties if you refuse to take a chemical test from a tabletop breathalyzer like an Intoximeter EC/IR II or an Intoxilyzer 5000. These are large machines that will be found at the police station or at the Wake County Detention Center. However, you will not be subject to a penalty if you refuse a portable breathalyzer test, like the kind police officer’s carry with them. In fact, often times the results from a portable breathalyzer are inadmissible in court.

So, what is the right thing to do? The best option is to call an experienced DUI attorney right away. Every case is different and you’re going to want the advice of an attorney who knows the specifics of your situation. If you have been arrested for suspected DUI, contact the attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm at (919) 239-8448. We can advise you and tell you the right course of action.

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