• North Carolina DWI Law | A review of North Carolina DWI Pre-Exit Tests as used by Police Officers during DWI Stops.
  • April 3, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • When a Driver is stopped by a Police Officer, and that Officer suspects the Driver may have violated North Carolina Driving While Intoxicated law, there are a battery of tests the Police Officer can request the Driver to perform in order to determine whether the Driver is impaired to a degree that is above the legal limit. Before speaking with a Durham DWI Attorney or Durham DWI Lawyer, it is helpful to understand the tests were used by Police Officers during DWI stops. One series of tests that Police Officers sometimes use is referred to as Pre-Exit Tests.

    The Pre-exit Tests are tests which are normally performed while the Driver is still seated in their Vehicle. Occasionally, for safety reasons, a Police Officer may request the Driver to come to their vehicle in order to perform the tests. Additionally, these tests are normally performed before the administration of any Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and/or the use of the handheld breathalyzer machine known as the AlcoSensor. These tests are used by a Police Officer to determine whether to proceed to the use of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and/or the use of the AlcoSensor.

    Though these tests will vary between different Police Officers, there are three common ones which are used.

    First is a finger dexterity test. During this test, the Driver is asked touch fingertip of their index finger to that hand's thumb while counting aloud "one." Then proceed in order to the middle finger, ring finger, then pinky finger counting up to "four." There, they are to count back down to one while touching finger to thumb in reverse order. This test is normally asked to perform with both hands at the same time.

    Second test involves the recital of the alphabet. Normally, the Driver is asked to start somewhere in the middle, and end somewhere in the middle. For example, the Police Officer may ask the Driver to start at "k" and finish at "r." Reciting the alphabet from "a" to "z" is much easier then having to start and finish in the middle.

    Lastly, the Driver is asked to count up or down. Again, this test normally will ask the driver to start and finish at an obscure two-digit number. For example, the Police Officer may ask the Driver to start the counting up at fifty-seven, and end at seventy-four.

    These tests, like the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, as well as the use of the AlcoSensor are completely voluntary for the Driver in North Carolina. By agreeing to perform these tests, the Driver is not only providing the Police Officer with evidence used to determine whether to arrest the Driver for Driving While Intoxicated, but also used by the Prosecution in their trial should the Driver be arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. There are no consequences to refusing to perform these tests; which is different from the Intoximeter, which is the machine used after arrest. Refusal to blow into this machine in North Carolina will result in an immediate thirty day suspension of the Driver's license with an additional one-year suspension there after. Additionally, the Driver will not be able to petition the Court for a limited driving privilege until six months into the one year suspension.

    For advice on your particular Driving While Intoxicated matter, it is always best to speak with a local Driving While Intoxicated attorney.

    I am a North Carolina Criminal Attorney practicing in Raleigh, Durham and the greater Triangle area. In addition to North Carolina Criminal Defense, I also handle North Carolina traffic citations with a focus on North Carolina DWI charges.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.