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Should drivers ever refuse a breath test?

Drivers pulled over for suspected DUI/DWI in North Carolina know the officer will likely require them to take a breath test.

But what happens if they refuse to take the test?

In North Carolina-and many other states-a prerequisite to getting a drivers' license requires drivers to give what's referred to as "implied consent." This basically means that, in exchange for a license, they are agreeing to submit to a breath test in the event they are pulled over for suspected DWI.

If drivers refuse, they will face the loss of their drivers' license. The amount of time they lose their license depends on, however, what actions they take.

An 30-day license suspension automatically goes into effect for drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test. However, they could face a 1 year drivers' license suspension -unless they request a DMV hearing to challenge the arrest. The request must occur within 10 days of the refusal. No exceptions.

If drivers request a DMV hearing within the requisite time frame to challenge the stop, they can continue driving until the outcome of the hearing.

However, the 1 year suspension goes into effect for drivers who do not request the hearing at all or within the stipulated time frame. And, certain circumstances, such as the presence of a minor in the vehicle at the time of the stop, will expand the license suspension to 2 years.

What action drivers take when they are pulled over -and subsequently thereafter-will often determine their driving privileges for the months to come.

Those who have refused and are unsure about what steps to take to request the hearing should consult with an experienced DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible.

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