The Intox EC/IR II breathalyzer has been used by law enforcement in North Carolina since 2004 to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is the single most important device used by police and prosecutors to convict people of driving while impaired. Not to be confused with a portable breathalyzer (a PBT), which is often used by police to measure blood alcohol concentration on the side of the road, the Intox EC/IR II is used most often at police stations by a trained chemical analyst. A reading of 0.08 or greater on this machine is just one of the ways the State can convict a person of DWI.
There are several procedural safeguards that the State must follow with regards to administering the test, most of which will be closely scrutinized by a good attorney. A person charged with DWI has a 30 minute window in which he or she has a right to contact a witness to observe the administration of the test. After the 30 minute waiting period, the test may be administered without the defendant’s witness present given the witness was not prevent from entering the testing area.
Defendants also have a right to refuse an Intox EC/IR II breath test but will face an automatic 1 year license suspension because DWI is an implied consent law. A refusal may be unintentional or the result of a medical condition that could result in issues arising as to whether there was or was not a refusal. A DMV hearing may be requested to resolve issues involving refusal. If the breath test is refused, the State may obtain a search warrant and force a defendant to take a blood test, which will also measure blood alcohol concentration. In the case of a breath test refusal and a blood test, the refusal will still be grounds for a 1 year license suspension, even though the State collected the evidence they needed with the blood test.
The tricky part about the Intox EC/IR II tests is that while chemical analysts are trained by the State on how the machine operates and on how to administer the test properly, defense attorneys and the general public are left in the dark about the device actually works. While the inner workings of the device may remain a mystery, there is a public database of maintenance records on the machine that every good attorney should review in their client’s case.
Please contact Raleigh DWI defense attorney Matthew Golden to discuss your driving while impaired case for free.