In general, a driver may refuse to blow into a portable breath test (“PBT”), a test often administered during a traffic stop when determining probable cause to arrest. Refusal to blow into a PBT does not revoke a driver’s license in North Carolina. However, the refusal may be used against a driver by an officer to determine probable cause, in trial, or in an administrative hearing. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-16.3(d); State v. Coleson, 2018 N.C. App. LEXIS 709 (2018) (unpublished). If a driver blows into a PBT, a positive or negative result for alcohol is admissible, not the numerical result. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-16.3(d).
It is important to appreciate there are two types of breath tests. One is the PBT (often referred to as an Alco-Sensor test) used to confirm the presence of alcohol. The second is an Intoxilyzer (often referred to as an Intoximeter test) used to establish an alcohol reading after arrest.
If arrested for DWI, a driver will be taken to the police station to take the Intoxilyzer test. Refusal to blow into the Intoxilyzer test revokes a driver’s license in North Carolina, unless challenged successfully. The refusal may be used against a driver as evidence of guilt. If a driver blows into the Intoxilyzer, the lowest numerical result is admissible at trial. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-139.1(b3).
DWI cases are often decided upon careful review of standardized field sobriety, PBT, and Intoxilyzer tests, among other important facts. Criminal law attorneys must have a command of the statutes, case law, and facts of the case. Contact the skilled criminal law attorneys at Davis & Davis, Attorneys at Law, P.C., including a Board-Certified Specialist in Federal and State Criminal Law, to schedule a consultation today. The above is intended for educational purposes only and constitutes neither legal advice nor an attorney-client relationship.