If you are charged with a DWI or a DUI in Raleigh, it is imperative that you get a Raleigh DWI lawyer. North Carolina is one of the strictest states in the country with regards to DWI law. Not only do you face loss of your driver’s license, but prison sentences imposed can be as high as three (3) years and fines can reach up to ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars. It is important to have a DWI defense lawyer review and advise you on your case.

Edd K. Roberts III is a board certified attorney in Raleigh that specializes in criminal law. As a former prosecutor for Wake County, he knows what it takes to defend you against all kinds of criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor DWI to a serious felony such as Homicide.

DWI Legally Defined

DWI Raleigh

A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he/she drives any vehicle upon a highway, a street, or a public vehicular area within this state while under the influence of an impairing substance; or after having consumed sufficient alcohol that he/she has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, or its metabolites in his/her blood or urine. Also referred to as Driving Under the Influence/DUI.

The fact that you are legally entitled to consume a prescribed drug is not considered a defense.

LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR DWI CHARGE

Why were you pulled over & how did it lead to a DWI investigation?
Do I do roadside sobriety test and chemical testing?
What will be my punishment if convicted of DWI?
Can I get driving privileges after conviction?
How do I know if I’m eligible for driving privileges if I have been convicted before for DWI or didn’t have license at the time of arrest?

Why were you pulled over and how did it lead to a DWI investigation?

When stopping drivers for suspicion of driving while impaired, the police cannot pull you over at random. Law enforcement must justify the initial stop, with what is called “articulable and reasonable suspicion.” To develop this officers look for a traffic law violation or signs of intoxication to support a traffic stop. Warning signs may initially include speeding, weaving, falling too closely, or failing to signal.

Once the officer approaches your car, they will be looking for further evidence to support conducting a full blown DWI investigation, like the smell of alcohol or other illegal drugs, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and other observable indicators of possible impairment. As the officer talks with you, they will be looking inside your car for contraband. Examples of contraband could include empty alcohol containers or drugs. Once there are other indicators of impairment or admission to consumption of alcohol law enforcement will proceed on to having you do roadside tests.

Roadside sobriety tests and chemical testing

If an officer has articulable and reasonable suspicion to believe you are driving while impaired, you may be asked to submit to one or more standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These tests allow an officer to observe your physical ability, cognitive ability, attention level, balance, or other notable observations to help form an opinion that you were driving while impaired.

The three standard FSTs established by the NHTSA which are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
  • One-Leg Stand Test
  • Walk-and-Turn Test

In North Carolina, you have the right to refuse any field sobriety test requested by a law enforcement officer. This right also extends to the preliminary breathalyzer test (PBT), which is generally requested before arrest. The PBT is often confused with the mandatory breath test. Currently North Carolina’s implied consent law states that a refusal of the breath test, usually conducted in the jail after arrest on a machine called an intoximeter, carries the penalty of revocation of your driver’s license for up to one year. If you decide to take this breath test to avoid that penalty of revocation you are still entitled to ask for a witness to observe this test and be given additional time for them to arrive to do so.

DWI Punishment

Different factors (mitigating, aggravating and grossly aggravating) come into play that guide a judge in determining what level of punishment is appropriate. There are now six levels of punishment.

 

Aggravated Level One punishment:

  • Fined up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than twelve (12) months and a maximum of not more than thirty- six (36) months.
  • Active time may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed with a term of imprisonment of at least four (4) months.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended education or treatment.
  • The judge may impose any other lawful condition as well.

 

Level One punishment:

  • Fined up to four thousand dollars ($4,000)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than 30 days and a maximum of not more than 24 months.
  • Active time may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed with a term of imprisonment of at least 30 days.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended  education or treatment as a condition of this offense.
  • The judge may impose any other lawful condition.

Level Two punishment:

  • Fined up to two thousand dollars ($2,000)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than 7 days and a maximum of not more than 12 months.
  • Active time may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed with a term of imprisonment of at least 7 days.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended education or treatment.
  • The judge may impose any other lawful condition.

 

Level Three punishment:

  • Fined up to one thousand dollars ($1,000)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than 72 hours and a maximum of not more than 6 months.
  • Active time may be suspended. However, the suspended sentence shall include the following:
  1. Be imprisoned for a term of at least 72 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of a least 72 hours; or
  3. Any combination of these conditions.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended education or treatment.
  • The Judge may impose any other lawful condition.

Level Four punishment:

  • Fined up to five hundred dollars ($500.00)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than 48 hours and a maximum of not more than 120 days.
  • Active time may be suspended. However, the suspended sentence shall include the following:
  1. Be imprisoned for a term of 48 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of 48 hours; or
  3. Any combination of these conditions.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended education or treatment. The judge may impose any other lawful condition.

Level Five punishment:

  • Fined up to two hundred dollars ($200.00)
  • Sentenced to active time for a minimum term of not less than 24 hours and a maximum of not more than 60 days.
  • Active time may be suspended. However, the suspended sentence shall include the following:
  1. Be imprisoned for a term of 24 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of 24 hours; or
  3. Any combination of these conditions.
  • If the defendant is placed on probation, he/she shall be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment and comply with the recommended education or treatment. The judge may impose any other lawful condition.

Getting Driving Privileges

You are generally allowed by the court driving privileges after your first conviction of DWI and in some instances when you have had one or more prior convictions of DWI depending on the time frame of those convictions. A limited driving privilege is an Order issued in the discretion of the Court for good cause shown granting a person with a revoked driver’s license due to a DWI conviction to drive for essential purposes related to any of the following:

  1. His/her employment.
  2. The maintenance of his/her household.
  3. His/her education.
  4. His/her court-ordered treatment or assessment.
  5. Community service ordered as a condition of the person’s probation.
  6. Emergency medical care.

Eligibility

A person convicted of impaired driving (pursuant to N.C.G.S. 20-138.1) is eligible for a limited driving privilege if:

  • They held either a valid driver’s license or a license that had been expired for less than one year at the time of the offense;
  • They have not within the preceding seven years from the offense date been convicted of an offense involving impaired driving;
  • A level Three, Four, or Five punishment was imposed for the offense of impaired driving;

Subsequent to the offense date he/she has not been convicted of, or had an unresolved charge lodged against him/her for, an offense involving impaired driving; and

The person has obtained and filed with the court a substance abuse assessment.

DWI’s/DUI’s are complex and challenging cases with multiple stages where the accused’s legal rights could be violated. It is important to have a trained and experienced Raleigh DWI/DUI lawyer review every stage of the process in order to make sure that you receive the benefit when corners are cut and your rights have been violated.

Please contact us at info@robertslawnc.com or give us a call at 919-782-8115 to set up a free consultation to go over the facts and circumstances of your case.

Edd K. Roberts III is a board certified criminal defense attorney in Raleigh that specializes in criminal law. As a former prosecutor for Wake County, he knows what it takes to defend you against all kinds of criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor DWI to a serious felony such as Homicide.

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