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Gastonia man facing DWI charge after driving moped

A Gastonia man with a history of drunk driving charges has picked up another charge while driving a moped. According to the arresting officer, the man ran a red light on his moped and was driving in the wrong lane. The officer said the man had difficulty standing and smelled of alcohol. The man refused to submit to a breath test but was forced to give a blood sample after a search warrant was issued.

The man was charged with DWI. He has faced eight previous DWI charges; he was convicted seven of those times. If convicted of the current charge, these previous convictions could work against him at the sentencing phase of trial. However, five of the seven convictions occurred in the 1990s. Another of his convictions was in 2006 for an incident that occurred in 1998. The seventh conviction was in 2004 for a charge the previous year. Therefore, the man may benefit at trial from the fact that he has not received any DWI charges in 10 years. He received probation for all the past convictions.

A person cannot be forced to take a breath test. However, under the implied consent law of North Carolina, when a person applies for a drivers license, that person gives consent to breath tests and sobriety tests in exchange for the privilege to drive.

If an officer stops a driver under suspicion of drunk driving and the officer's belief that the driver was impaired is reasonable, then refusing a breathalyzer test may result in an automatic license suspension for 30 days. In addition, the Division of Motor Vehicles will revoke a drivers license for a period of one year. This revocation will be imposed even if the driver was force to provide a blood sample.

Source: Gaston Gazette, "7-time convicted drunken driver picks up new DWI charge," Kevin Ellis, February 4, 2013

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