Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Offense in North Carolina
Contact a North Carolina DUI lawyer at Twiford Law Group, PC if you've been arrested for an alcohol-related motor vehicle offense. Our attorneys provide the expertise you need and may even be able to help you avoid a court appearance.
What you need to know about DWI/DUI In North Carolina
- In North Carolina, drunk driving is known as Driving While Impaired- DWI-some refer to it as DUI, but there is no legal difference.
- If you register (blow) a .08 or higher in a breathalyzer test, you are considered impaired and will be charged with DWI.
- Driving While Impaired is not limited to alcohol consumption, but you can also be charged with DWI due to the use of marijuana or prescription drugs while operating a vehicle.
- Hiring a knowledgeable Twiford Law Firm DWI defense attorney can make the difference between a lengthy driver's license suspension and potential jail sentence—or a dismissal or reduction of charge. North Carolina police and prosecutors in North Eastern North Carolina take these charges very seriously, which is why you need a serious and aggressive DWI defense.
Elements of the Offense
To be found guilty, the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were driving a vehicle on a street, highway, or public vehicular area
- You were under the influence of an impairing substance or after consuming a sufficient quantity of alcohol you had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at any relevant time after the driving or with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolites in your blood or urine.
A DWI is a misdemeanor, and the level of punishment depends on the presence of and weight of certain aggravating and mitigating factors found by the court. There are five different levels of punishment:
Level 1: Minimum imprisonment of 30 days, maximum imprisonment of 2 years and a maximum fine of $4,000. The term of imprisonment may be suspended in specified circumstances.
Level 2: Minimum imprisonment of 7 days, maximum imprisonment of 1 year and a maximum fine of $2,000. The term of imprisonment may be suspended in specified circumstances.
Level 3: Minimum imprisonment of 72 hours, maximum imprisonment of 6 months and a maximum fine of $1,000. The original sentence may be suspended on the condition that the defendant meet at least one of these conditions: at least 72 hours of community service or imprisonment for at least 72 hours.
Level 4: Minimum imprisonment of 48 hours, maximum imprisonment of 120 days and a maximum fine of $500. The term of imprisonment may be suspended in specified circumstances. The original sentence may be suspended on the condition that the defendant meet at least one of these conditions: at least 48 hours of community service or imprisonment for 48 hours.
Level 5: Minimum imprisonment of 24 hours, maximum imprisonment of 60 days and a maximum fine of $200. The term of imprisonment may be suspended in specified circumstances. The original sentence may be suspended on the condition that the defendant meet at least one of these conditions: at least 24 hours of community service or imprisonment for 24 hours.
Aggravating factors are especially negative factors. Some aggravating factors include a very high breathalyzer reading of .16 or more, especially reckless driving, a bad traffic record that consists of at least two tickets in the past 5 years that resulted in 3 points or more on your DMV record, alluding arrest, property damage, speeding in excess of 30 mph or being uncooperative with the police officer, etc. When you blow 0.16 or higher on the Breathalyzer, then you will be required to have a ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle at a cost of several hundred dollars and a monthly monitoring fee.
Revocation of your Driver's License
A DWI charge in North Carolina requires an immediate thirty (30) day revocation of your driving privilege-just for being charged. After ten (10) days from the date of the arrest, a Pre-Trial Limited Privilege may be obtained in certain circumstances. We can assist you in navigating the complicated process of obtaining a limited driving privilege, assuming you qualify. Please contact our office for more information.
What are a few examples of where courts have found sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction, even when the accused did not register (blow) a .08 or higher?
- The defendant's blood alcohol concentration was .07;
- Defendant admitted to consuming alcohol before driving;
- An open half-filled bottle of vodka was found in the passenger area of her vehicle;
- Officer smelled alcohol when he approached her vehicle; and
- Officer testified that he thought the defendant's faculties were appreciably impaired.
- The defendant was driving faster than 60 miles per hour;
- His vehicle had no motor vehicle tags;
- He did not stop for the officer and when he did, he blocked an intersection;
- Upon stopping, the defendant started toward the officer's vehicle;
- The office smelled a strong odor of alcohol and observed an open container of beer in the vehicle;
- Defendant's coat appeared to be wet from beer waste; and
- His speech was slurred and refused to take the breathalyzer test.
- The officer believed, in his opinion, that defendant was impaired;
- Officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol about the defendant;
- Defendant drove across the centerline, was sleepy, and had difficulty walking and speaking clearly; and
- Defendant refused to take the breathalyzer test.
These scenarios are real-life examples of why, if charged with a DWI, you need the skilled representation of an attorney from The Twiford Law Firm, P.C.
When calling to speak with an attorney, here are a few questions you should be prepared to answer:
- What were you doing prior to your arrest?
- What alcohol had you consumed and how much?
- Why did the officer stop you (if you know)?
- What coordination tests did you take?
- How well did you perform those tests?
- What did you say to the officer?
- What were the results of any breath tests? (Blood test results won't be available until much later.)
- Were there any witnesses to your behavior shortly prior to you leaving the place before your arrest or shortly after you were released from jail?
- Were you allowed a witness to the breath or blood test and did you avail yourself of that opportunity?
Learn more about our North Carolina traffic and DWI defense attorney services or call for an immediate consultation: (800) 395-4151. With offices in Elizabeth City and Moyock, we fight for our clients in the Outer Banks.