If you have been arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) in Raleigh, it is important to know your rights and what steps you need to take next.
The first step is usually hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. But when is the right time to do that?
In this blog post, we will discuss legal representation, when you should hire a DUI attorney, and what a law firm can do for you if you have charges in Wake County.
Do I really need a DUI lawyer?
DWI charges in NC are serious and can result in significant penalties, even for a first offense.
A DWI lawyer will know how to navigate the court system and will explain the best-case and worst-case scenarios. They may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether, depending on the individual circumstances of the allegations.
Obviously, each case and fact pattern are different.
Part of our job is to go over the process, provide guidance, and help you understand what you face – John Fanney, Raleigh DUI Attorney
Some cases merit a trial on the legal issues, others are more appropriate for a plea bargain.
It’s important to understand, that your DUI case is somewhat unique. While it may share certain similarities with other issues involving criminal law, your attorney should thoroughly study and analyze your legal options.
Clearly, impaired driving is a serious crime. A “drunk driving” conviction can affect you for a long time.
As such, lawyers take the time to carefully reveiw the allegations made by the charging officer, answering questions like:
- Was there Reasonable Suspicion to Stop?
- Did the charging officer have Probable Cause?
- Was the arrest valid?
- Are breath tests admissible?
- Is there Reasonable Doubt?
When should I hire a lawyer?
Ideally, we think you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
This will give us the most time to work on your case and prepare a legal defense and seek a favorable outcome.
Most DUI lawyers want as much time as possible to prepare. Experience counts. So does preparation – John Fanney, DWI Lawyers in Raleigh NC
Is DWI in North Carolina “drunk driving?”
No, driving while impaired (DWI) is not the same thing as “drunk driving.” It also does not require prosecutors to prove the defendant (the person facing a possible DUI conviction) was “intoxicated.”
In North Carolina, you can be charged with DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher. A DUI arrest does not require a breath test.
You can also be charged with DWI if law enforcement officials believe that your ability to drive has been appreciably impaired by alcohol or drugs – regardless of your BAC.
Clearly, drunk driving is illegal in NC, but you do not have to be “drunk” to be charged under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1. The law refers to the offense as Impaired Driving and not a “drunk driving charge.”
If you have been charged with DWI, it is a good idea to contact an experienced Raleigh DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
At the Fanney Law Office, we have over 30 years of experience defending clients against DWI charges in Raleigh, NC.
Contact John by email: John@FanneyLaw.com
Can I plea bargain? Should I plea guilty?
This is a difficult question to answer. DUI cases are complicated.
There are many factors that need to be considered when making this decision.
Legal counsel can help go over what is important and guide you through the process.
Some people choose to plead guilty because they are actually guilty and they want to take responsibility for their actions.
Others may plead guilty because they are afraid of what will happen if they go to trial and are found guilty.
If you have been charged with DWI, it is crucial for you speak with an experienced Raleigh DUI lawyer before making any decisions about your case.
Under the NC DWI laws, reckless driving is NOT a “lesser included offense” of impaired driving. As such, plea bargaining DWI changes in North Carolina is greatly limited.
That does not mean legal counsel cannot participate in plea negotiations regarding related criminal charges such as traffic violations, drug crimes, and license suspension allegations.
At the Fanney Law Office, we offer a free consultation for your DUI charge so that you can learn more about your legal rights and options before making any decisions about your case.
What happens if I refused to blow?
In North Carolina, if you are arrested for DWI, the officer may ask you to submit to a chemical test of your breath or blood (or even urine).
If you refuse this test, your license can be automatically suspended depending on the circumstances of the case. Many DUI lawyers may refer to that as a Willful Refusal.
If you have been charged with DWI and have questions about your legal rights or options, it is important to hire an attorney in Raleigh with substantial experience handling such cases.
A legal professional can explain the legal limit, punishments for first time offenders, and whether or not jail time is possible.
Can I get my case dismissed if they didn’t read me my rights?
Ordinarily, your case cannot be dismissed simply because the officer failed to read you your rights. It’s frankly a complicated area of law that deserves the attention of your attorney.
The Miranda warnings are designed to protect your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
In other words, they are designed to prevent you from incriminating yourself by making statements to the police that can be used against you in court.
While the failure of an officer to read you your Miranda rights may seem like a technicality; it is important to understand that this does not automatically mean that your case will be dismissed.
If you have been charged with DWI and have questions about whether or not your Miranda rights were violated, we strongly recommend you speak with an attorney who has experience handling such cases in Raleigh.
What is a Pretrial Limited Privilege in North Carolina?
If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you may be wondering whether or not you should hire a lawyer.
The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the severity of the charge and your prior record.
One factor to consider is whether or not you are eligible for a Pretrial Limited Privilege.
If you are eligible, this means that you may be able to continue driving for certain purposes while your case is pending.
In order to be eligible, there are requirements, including obtaining what most DUI attorneys refer to as an “Assessment.”
If you are eligible for a Pretrial Limited Privilege (LDP), it is generally advisable to hire a law firm with extensive experience preparing and filing such court materials.
What do I need for a Limited Privilege?
Assuming you are eligible and don’t have a license suspended for other reasons, there are particular forms and documents necessary for filing, including but not limited to:
- Alcohol Assessment
- Employment Information
- Petition for Limited Driving Privilege
- Limited Driving Privilege
What if I can’t afford a private attorney for my DUI case?
If you are facing DWI charges and cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer. That does not necessarily mean the attorney is free of charge.
You will need to fill out an application and provide information about your income and assets to obtain public defenders. That’s referred to as an Affidavit of Indigency.
The court will then decide whether or not to appoint a lawyer for you.
You also may represent yourself in court; that generally is not advisable given the complexity of such matters. It most certainly puts you at a disadvantage in dealing with the prosecutor assigned to prosecute.
Make no mistake. The State has very capable, very small lawyers at the DA’s Office. They are not there to help you. They cannot explain your legal rigthts or options. Only your defense lawyer can give you legal advice – John Fanney, DWI Defense Attorney in Raleigh
While having a court-appointed lawyer is better than no lawyer at all, many public defenders have extremely busy calendars. They may not have the same amount of time to devote to your case that a private lawyer would.
Each case and each fact pattern is different. If you have legal questions about your case, contact an experienced DWI lawyer in Raleigh immediately.
How much do DWI lawyers in Raleigh charge?
The cost of a DWI lawyer in Raleigh can vary depending on the severity of the charges, the lawyer’s experience, and the amount of time they anticipate spending on your case.
Be sure to ask about all fees for your DWI charge and any costs so there are no surprises later on. Criminal court fees and costs are generally not covered in legal fees for DUI charges.
Most DUI lawyers in Raleigh charge either a flat rate fee or an hourly rate. Fees also vary depending on the stage of the proceedings.
As you might imagine, if the DWI allegations involve other related, more serious felony charges like Felony Assualt, Felony Death by Vehicle, or Vehicular Homicide, legal fees will most certainly be more expensive.
What should I look for in a DWI lawyer?
When you are looking for a DWI lawyer, search for someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in North Carolina DUI law and who understands local practices in Wake County.
It helps to know when it makes sense to participate in plea bargaining, negotiate a plea deal (assuming that’s possible), and when it’s more appropriate to take DUI charges to trial in criminal court.
I’ve been helping people in Raleigh for more than 30 years. DWI charges deserve careful attention to detail. Experience counts – John Fanney, Raleigh DUI Lawyer
You should also look for someone who makes you feel comfortable and who you can trust to represent you for your DUI case.
If you have been arrested for driving while impaired in Raleigh, contact John Fanney at 919-617-7009 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Our team of experienced DWI lawyers is here to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.