Raleigh Lawyers Skilled in Defense of Drunk-Driving Cases
Knowledgeable counsel provides crucial help in reducing DWI penalties
A driving while impaired (DWI) conviction can cost you fines and jail time and result in loss of reputation. While in some states DWI and driving under the influence (DUI) are distinct offenses, North Carolina laws do not distinguish between the two. DWI defense is a complex and case-specific process. Whether you decide to fight the charges or plead guilty, it is always important to have a Raleigh DWI attorney by your side. The DWI attorneys of Hatch, Little & Bunn, L.L.P. in Raleigh know how to minimize the penalties you may face.
What is driving while impaired?
Under North Carolina law, DWI is a traffic offense that can be a misdemeanor or a felony. You are guilty of DWI if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. This can be proved by a breath or blood test that shows:
- You are an adult operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent.
- You are a commercial driver operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent.
- You are under the age of 21 and operating a vehicle with any alcohol in your system.
Notably, you can be regarded as operating a vehicle for purposes of DWI even if your vehicle is parked with the engine running, as long as you are in actual physical control of it.
What are the penalties for DWI?
Determining DWI penalties in North Carolina is a complex and case-specific process. Penalties for DWI convictions include the following:
- First offense — License suspension for up to one year, at least 24 hours in jail and a $200 fine.
- Second offense —License suspension for one to four years, at least four days in jail and fines of $200 to $4,000.
- Third offense. If the three DWI charges have all occurred in the last 10 years and the last two charges occurred within the last five years, the court may permanently revoke your license. You may also face jail time of up to two years.
Getting your license back after suspension will be conditional on meeting special requirements, including installation of an interlock ignition device (IID) on your vehicle.
A DWI ticket can carry heavier penalties in any of the following circumstances:
- A child was present in the vehicle
- You were speeding
- Your vehicle damaged property or caused personal injury to another party
Whether you decide to fight the charges or seek leniency based on a plea, it is always important to consult first with an experienced DWI attorney who can represent you in negotiations with authorities and before the court.
How is my BAC determined?
It is important to be aware of your rights if a police officer pulls you over for suspected drunk driving. The police may stop a driver if they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is operating a vehicle while impaired. After the officer pulls you over, he or she can ask you to perform field sobriety test, such as the familiar walk-and-turn and finger-to-nose exercises. The officer can also demand you submit to a portable breathing test (PBT) to measure your BAC. Even if there is no PBT given or if you refuse to take one, the officer can arrest you based on probable cause to believe that you were impaired while driving. At the police station, you may again be asked to submit to a breath or blood test.
North Carolina law provides that any licensed driver has given implied consent to submit to a blood-alcohol test when it is demanded by police. Refusal to submit is not a crime in itself but can be used as evidence in a DWI prosecution. It is also grounds for a one-year automatic license suspension.
Contact an experienced DWI lawyer in Raleigh
If you face DWI charges, the experienced lawyers at Hatch, Little & Bunn, L.L.P. in Raleigh can advise you of your legal rights and explain your options. We are aware of the serious implications of DWI charges, and work hard to achieve fair outcomes for our clients. Call 919-899-9827 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.