DWI Charges in Raleigh: Straight Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
If you're facing a DWI charge, having a seasoned lawyer by your side is crucial. Criminal Defense Lawyers explain the complex legal process, fight for your rights, and help prepare a comprehensive defense strategy. DWI charges in North Carolina are serious. It is advisable to seek legal help from an experienced DWI lawyer in Raleigh who is familiar with the local court protocols and policies.
You should establish an attorney-client relationship with a DWI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. Timing can prove key to an effective DWI defense. Lawyers explain the best-case and worst-case scenarios, gather and review important evidence in your case, and help develop a defense strategy. Acting swiftly can have a significant impact on your case.
The ideal time to hire a lawyer is immediately after your arrest. An experienced DWI lawyer can help you understand the charges against you, your legal rights, and the potential penalties. They can immediately begin building a defense strategy and provide you with much-needed peace of mind. DWI charges in North Carolina are serious. Your matter deserves the attention of an experienced DWI defense attorney in Raleigh NC.
DWI charges in North Carolina are taken very seriously, and the laws can be intricate and complicated. First-time offenders can face heavy fines, license suspension, community service, and even jail time in certain circumstances. The severity of penalties can escalate with subsequent offenses and/or the existence of aggravating factors. A driving while impaired lawyer with substantial courtroom experience in Wake County can walk you through the specifics of the NC DWI laws and help you navigate the legal process.
There may be legal defenses available to challenge DWI charges. Common defenses include legal issues challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer (Intoximeter EC/IR II breath tests) or DWI blood tests, questioning the legality of your traffic stop (Reasonable Suspicion), and the way field sobriety tests were administered (Probable Cause to Arrest). Each case is unique, and an experienced DWI lawyer will tailor a defense strategy to fit your specific circumstances.
The consequences of a DWI conviction in North Carolina can be severe, including substantial fines, license suspension or revocation, mandatory alcohol education programs, probation, and even jail time, if deemed appropriate by the Court (the Judge). On top of that, a conviction can also have long-lasting effects on your personal life, including higher insurance premiums, difficulty finding employment, and potential damage to your reputation.
Some folks make crucial mistakes after a DWI arrest, like admitting guilt, not contacting a lawyer immediately, or not taking the charges seriously. Missteps can negatively impact your case. That's why it's important to remain silent, ask for a lawyer, and treat the situation with the gravity it deserves.
In North Carolina, a driver is considered impaired if they operate a vehicle under the influence of an impairing substance, have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance is in their system.
You can refuse a "breathalyzer test" in North Carolina, but there can be consequences. North Carolina is an "implied consent" jurisdiction. This means that by driving on North Carolina roads, you have implicitly agreed to take a "breathalyzer" (Intoximeter EC/IR II) or other chemical tests such as a blood test or urine test. A refusal to submit to the EC/IR II, blood test, and/or urine test, can lead to an immediate license suspension and can be used against you in court. The AlcoSensor FST is a handheld device used to detect the existence of alcohol in your breath as part of the "arrest decision" and Probable Cause to Arrest. Failure to submit to an AlcoSensor does not result in the revocation or suspension of your driving privileges.
Certain factors can increase the severity of your DWI sentence in North Carolina. These are called "aggravating" factors, and they include but are not limited to a high BAC level, reckless or dangerous driving, causing an accident or injury, eluding arrest, and having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense. N.C.G.S. 20-179 sets forth the statutory Aggravating, Grossly Aggravating and Mitigating Factors that are a part of DWI sentencing in NC.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or "SFSTs" include the HGN (the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus eye test), the One Leg Stand, and the Walk-and-Turn (Heel to Toe) test. Field sobriety tests are often an important aspect of Probable Cause to Arrest and may also be used in the Reasonable Doubt phase of DWI charges in Raleigh, North Carolina. However, these tests are not infallible and may, in appropriate circumstances, be challenged in court. For instance, certain medical conditions or physical impairments can impact your performance on field sobriety tests.
If you've been convicted of driving in the past seven years, it can significantly impact the punishment, if convicted, of any new DWI charges in Raleigh NC. N.C.G.S. 20-179 is the NC DWI sentencing law. Prior convictions for impaired driving in any state may be categorized as "grossly aggravating" factors. Both aggravating and grossly aggravating factors must be proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by the prosecutor during the statutorily mandated sentencing hearing. Any aggravating factor can lead to stiffer penalties, including higher fines and longer jail time, depending on the unique nature of your charges and prior conviction(s). That's one reason why it's smart to immediately seek legal counsel if you've been arrested for DUI in Raleigh NC.
A DWI conviction can NOT be expunged, or removed, from your criminal record in North Carolina. However, driving while impaired charges that have been dismissed by the State or found Not Guilty after trial may be eligible for an expunction. The process of expunging your arrest record is relatively complicated. This is another area where having a seasoned DWI lawyer by your side can make a significant difference.
While DWI, DUI, and "drunk driving" are common terms, N.C.G.S. 20-138.1 refers to the offense as Impaired Driving. As such, there is no practical distinction between the acronyms DWI and DUI in North Carolina. Both terms generally refer to the same offense, and the associated penalties are identical. It's important to note that some other states may define the offense differently or assign various levels of severity for DWIs, DUIs, or related offenses such as DUAC or OWI or OUI or "wet reckless." Impaired driving in North Carolina encompasses not only alcohol impairment, but also impairment due to other impairing substances, both legal and illegal.
Helpful Information About Impaired Driving in North Carolina
- DWI Charges in Raleigh: What You Need to Know
- What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
- Do you have any ID? - Dealing with Police when they start asking questions
- Accused of Drunk Driving? STOP TALKING
- Should I Blow - Portable Breath Test PBT
- Serious Injury by Vehicle
- Should I Blow – DWI Breath Tests
- Who is the Best DWI Lawyer in Raleigh?