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Charged with a DWI/DUI, now what?


Evan R. Rowe

North Carolina has some of the strictest DWI laws in the nation. Even for a first-time offense, you may have your license revoked, face jail time, and be subject to fines. Protect your driving privileges and future today by calling our Hickory & Newton, NC DWI lawyer at King & Rowe Attorneys at Law.

If you've been pulled over for a DWI, the most important thing you can do is protect your rights. Avoid answering any incriminating questions, be polite when talking to the police officer, and immediately contact a DWI attorney if the stop leads to an arrest. Our DWI attorneys can help you understand your options and walk you through complex DWI laws. You can count on us to fight for the best possible outcome inside and outside of court.

Understanding North Carolina DWI Laws

In North Carolina, to be guilty of DWI you must be convicted of operating a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while under the influence of some impairing substance. While the most common impairing substance is alcohol, you could also be convicted of a DWI for driving after consuming drugs (even prescription medication)! It is important to speak with an DWI attorney who understand the nuances of North Carolina DWI law.

There are various methods that law enforcement use to assess impairment in DWI cases, many of which you ARE NOT required to participate in:

  1. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs): There are 3 primary SFSTs—horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand—which law enforcement will use to attempt to evaluate a driver's coordination, balance, and cognitive function. THESE TESTS ARE OPTIONAL. Law enforcement WILL NOT tell you that you have the option to decline these tests; however, your performance on these tests will be used AGAINST you.

  2. Chemical Tests: Breath & Blood: Chemical tests, such as breath and blood, can be used to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and detect the presence of drugs in a driver's system. The timing and manner in which these tests are conducted is important and may very well affect the accuracy of the results. The Portable Breath Test (PBT) is a device that may be used roadside by law enforcement. Again, this is an OPTIONAL test. If you are arrested, the Breath Test conducted at the police station will be the official BAC used against you. You have the right to refuse this test as well but a refusal may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

Blood draws may be taken when a breath sample is not available. To take a blood sample, law enforcement must either have 1) consent from the defendant, or 2) a search warrant.

If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, it is important to consult with a DWI Attorney. You will be able to discuss common defense strategies used to challenge the prosecution's evidence in DWI cases. This may include questioning the validity of field sobriety tests, challenging the accuracy of breath or blood tests, or raising issues related to the officer's conduct during the traffic stop or arrest.

Facing a DWI charge in North Carolina is a serious matter that requires careful navigation of the legal system and strategic defense tactics. By understanding your rights, challenging the evidence against you, and seeking the guidance of a skilled DWI defense attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome and moving forward with your life.

Understanding North Carolina DWI Penalties

In North Carolina, DWI penalties are based on "levels," with each level indicating the severity of the factors involved. Level A1 is the most serious while Level 5 is the least. When a judge assesses DWI penalties, he or she will look at any mitigating or aggravating circumstances involved to determine your penalty level.

Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Hickory

  • Up to 2 years in jail if grossly aggravating factors are involved

  • License revocation or suspension up to 1 year

  • Court costs and fines that increase if aggravating factors are involved

  • Community service

Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders in NC

In North Carolina, repeat offenders or DWI offenses with aggravating circumstances, you may be subject to the following:

  • Higher fines

  • Longer jail time

  • Mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device

  • Longer suspension periods

In addition to the criminal penalties, you may also face increased insurance premiums. In some extreme cases, you may even be denied coverage altogether if the company views you as a high-risk policyholder due to your DWI charges.

Key Aggravating Factors in DWI Cases

The most serious level of DWI that you can be charged with under North Carolina law, is Level 1 aggravated. As your penalties for this level can be severe, it is important to understand the factors that can lead to this conviction. The judge can determine your level on based on the following aggravating factors:

  • Speeding

  • Prior criminal or driving record

  • BAC of 0.15% or higher

  • Child in the vehicle (under 18 years old)

  • Driving with a suspended license

  • Reckless driving

Call King & Rowe, Attorneys at Law to help with your case - 828-466-3858

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