Impaired Driving - DUI & DWI
Information from Hensley Law Firm about impaired driving, such as DWI and DUI, in North Carolina, including the law, potential consequences, and legal issues.
Impaired driving charges like DWI (Driving While Impaired) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be difficult charges to beat in North Carolina. The law is very strict - under most circumstances, you may not drive in North Carolina if your blood alcohol content is greater than .08 (.04 if you're driving a commercial vehicle) OR if you have consumed any substance that substantially impairs your ability to drive. This means that you can be charged with a DWI if you have medication or other drugs in your system besides alcohol - even prescription medication - if those substances are affecting your ability to drive.
Conviction of an impaired driving offense can carry serious consequences. There are six different levels of DWIs: Aggravated level 1 (most serious), 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (least serious). Mitigating and aggravating factors will determine at which level a DWI is sentenced.
Regardless of the sentencing level, your driver's license will be suspended for one year. Only level 3, 4, and 5 convictions are eligible for a limited driving privilege, and even then you will still only be allowed to drive for school, work, drug/alcohol education, community service, and household maintenance purposes.
The fines and costs on these charges run high, with the most serious of cases facing a fine of up to $10,000.00.
All defendants who are convicted of a DWI and whose sentence is suspended must submit to a substance abuse assessment and comply with the recommended treatment. For many sentencing levels, the judge will require complete abstinence from alcohol use for a period of one year or more.
All levels of sentencing also face jail time, and while judges have discretion to suspend active jail time and require community service instead for level 3, 4, and 5 sentences, judges must impose mandatory active jail time in level 2, 1, and aggravated level 1 sentences and/or require very intensive treatment for the defendant.
There are a litany of issues that can arise in impaired driving cases. The officer must have had a good reason to stop you and investigate whether you were driving impaired. Roadblocks must be properly and legally set up. The officer must follow proper procedure in performing any blood or breath tests when collecting evidence of impairment. He must advise you of your rights before detaining you and obtaining any confessions from you. Once your case is in court, the prosecution of your case must not be unreasonably delayed. These are all issues that can arise and impede on your constitutionally protected rights, and if law enforcement, investigators, or prosecution falter, then you may have a good defense in your impaired driving case.
Why Hire an Attorney?
It is important to have a trained, experienced attorney analyze your case to determine if there are any defenses on constitutional grounds. Although rare, there are cases where the charges against a defendant are outright dismissed because his constitutional rights were not protected. In the majority of cases, you will need an attorney to prepare you for your court date, including preparing all paperwork and certifications, and to present all the pertinent information to the judge. Even if you take responsibility and simply plead guilty to the charge, there are some 20 factors the judge must consider before imposing a sentence and you need a good defense attorney representing you to make sure the sentence imposed by the judge is the least severe sentence possible.
Have questions about NC implied consent laws or a DUI or DWI citation? I am always happy to give free consultations and speak with you about your situation to assess your options.
Hensley Law Firm provides criminal defense representation in:
Mars Hill, Marshall, Hot Springs, and surrounding areas (Madison County)
Asheville, Weaverville, Leicester, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and surrounding areas (Buncombe County)
Burnsville and surrounding areas (Yancey County)