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Select the North Carolina county where you were arrested:
North Carolina DWI information and help
An experienced North Carolina DUI lawyer can mean the difference
North Carolina DWI cases are decided at the local level
Although DWI law is the same throughout the state, each county handles drunk driving cases a bit differently. For that reason, it is important that you understand the local processes and procedures, and talk with an attorney with experience defending impaired driving cases in the county where you were arrested.
Select the North Carolina city where you were arrested:
If you were arrested for drunk driving and now face a prosecution in North Carolina, you are probably concerned about the consequences of this serious criminal allegation. You certainly don’t want to do any time in jail, and you are extremely nervous about having your license suspended and having a criminal record. You may anticipate the harsh impact this charge will have on your family, your career and your future. If you are like most people who face a North Carolina DWI, you are probably a little intimidated by the court process, and overwhelmed by the complexity of the law.
You have every right to be cautious because you face a life-changing criminal charge. It is a really good idea to take some time now and do your research and due diligence. Make sure that you make the best decisions in your case, starting with which attorney you choose to defend you.
North Carolina DWI Laws
Under North Carolina DWI Law, it is illegal to drive a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means, essentially, that if your ability to drive is lessened in any way because of alcohol or drugs, then you are breaking the law.
The legal limit for alcohol in North Carolina is 0.08 percent alcohol concentration. This means that if you are at or above 0.08 the state does not need to prove that you were impaired because the law presumes it to be so. It does not mean that if you are under 0.08 percent that you are safe from conviction. For people under 21 years old, the legal limit for alcohol is 0.02 percent. For people driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit in NC is 0.04.
In addition, North Carolina has serious felony laws specific to serius injuries and deaths caused while driving impaired.
North Carolina DWI Punishments
The North Carolina DWI penalties are prescribed as levels. They range from Level 1, which is the most sever, down to Level 5, which is the least severe.
Level 1 penalties include a minimum of 30 days in jail, and a range up to 2 years. Level 5 has a range of 1 day to 2 months in jail, but a judge can substitute community service for the one day in jail.
North Carolina DUI penalties can be aggravated or mitigated by a number of factors including prior DWI history, alcohol level, willingness to cooperate with psychological or substance abuse screening and treatment, carelessness of driving, excessive speeed, presence of a school bus and many other things. It is very important to discuss all of your history and all of the facts of your case with an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney who has experience in the county of your arrest to determine what factors will come into play in your case and what kind of sentence you should expect if you plead guilty or no-contest, or if you are found guilty.
North Carolina has a special classification for “habitual impaired drivers,” which turns an ordinary, non-accident, DWI arrest into a felony. If you are arrested 3 times in 10 years, you are looking at a Class F felony, and a minimum 1 year jail sentence which can not be suspended. In addition, the state will premanently revoke your driver’s license, and may force you to forfeit the vehicle that was used in the offense to the state.
In addition to the criminal and driving penalties, you should also be aware of what “collateral consequences” will affect your life. For example, your travel to other countries could be prohibited or restricted. For example, Canada makes it very difficult for US citizens with DWI convictions to enter their country. If you are not a US citizen, you could face deportation or exclusion. If you have a professional license such as a medical or dental license, a real estate license and any number of others, you may have very specific reporting requirements that you will need to meet. A North Carolina DWI conviction can also have a terrible influence on your ability to get and keep life, auto, health and disability insurance, and could result in your policies being canceled or premiums raised. A good DWI attorney will guide you through not only the criminal and civil legal aspects, but also counsel you on what to do to protect everything in your life from the reach of this ordeal.
North Carolina DWI License Suspensions and Interlock Devices
In addition to all of the above, you need to be aware that there is a civil license suspension aspect to your case. North Carolina Implied Consent Law dictates that you must submit to a chemical test if an officer asks during a DWI investigation. If you refuse, you will lose your privilege to drive unless you request a hearing.
WARNING: You must request a hearing within 10 days after notice of the suspension or you will lose your right to a hearing and to challenge the suspension.
If you request a hearing to challenge the suspension, the court may issue an order staying the revocation of your license until the hearing is set. At the hearing, the judge will have to decide several things, including whether you actually refused to take the chemical test for alcohol or drugs. It is important to have an attorney represent you at this hearing and to help prepare you for the ordeal.
North Carolina DWI law does provide for a limited driving permit in certain situations. Check with your attorney to see if you will qualify for one.
North Carolina Ignition Interlock Law: In certain cases, you may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This breath machine can be annoying and embarrasing. A local attorney will be able to advise you as to whether you might be required to have one after he or she learns to facts of your case and your history.
Your North Carolina DWI case may not be as bad as it looks
There is a common myth that North Carolina drunk driving cases are hopeless, and that it is useless to investigate or fight the allegations. This is a myth, and there is a lot that could result in your case being dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. For example, did you know that North Carolina DWI chemical testing is not an exact science, and in some cases it can be grossly misleading. The process is prone to mechanical and human errors. Without an experience attorney investigating your case you may never know if there was something there that could have exonerated you.
There are many other things that can, and often do, go wrong with the State’s case. For example, they might have evidence chain of custody issues, witness credibility or availability issues, or legal issues that prevent them from being able to prove that you are guilty. Without an attorney there is a greatly diminished chance of discovering any relevant issues, let alone being able to work them to your advantage.
You owe it to yourself to consult with an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney to see whether you have a case. Most lawyers in this area offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will feel much better with the North Carolina DWI court process if you at least contact a lawyer and talk it over before making any important decisions that can change the rest of your life. There is too much at stake to bury your head and pretend that this will go away by itself, or that it’s not that serious.