Being arrested for Driving While Impaired (DWI) in North Carolina can be a costly and scary experience. Even if you are facing the lowest level of punishment, being convicted of a DWI can result in jail time, fines, court costs, and loss of driving privileges for at least a year. A conviction can also make it difficult to find a job, rent a house, or attend school for years to come.
New Bern DWI Attorney
At Greene Crow & Smith, we understand that being charged with a DWI is a stressful and frightening experience. You don’t need to go through a DWI alone. Our criminal defense attorneys have successfully represented countless North Carolina residents facing drunk driving charges that put their futures and freedom in jeopardy. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can protect you.
North Carolina DWI Laws
In North Carolina, the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) is called driving while impaired (DWI). The crime of driving while impaired occurs when someone operates any vehicle on the street, highway, or public vehicle area:
- While under the influence of an impairing substance
- After consuming sufficient alcohol to make his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) .08 percent or higher, or
- With any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in his or her blood or urine
Most of the time, when someone is arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, the arresting police officer will conduct a breathalyzer test or a blood alcohol test. The test will determine the suspect’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of the arrest. For a person who is 21 or older, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is .08%.
For those under 21, any detectable alcohol level in their system can result in a charge for underage DWI. For drivers with a commercial driver’s license, the blood alcohol concentration limit is .04%. North Carolina recognizes several different types of driving while under the influence (DWI) charges, such as:
- Second or third offenses
- Felony charges
- Boating while under the influence (BUI)
- Drugged driving
- Offense with a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- DWI while on probation
What If I Never Took a Blood Alcohol Concentration Test?
While establishing a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration is the most common way to establish that they are illegally impaired, it isn’t the only way. When a person’s blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limits, but there is other evidence of impairment, the police officer can still choose to arrest the suspect. Evidence of impairment can include bloodshot eyes, empty alcohol containers in the vehicle, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, and more.
Prosecutors can still bring charges even when the suspect’s alleged alcohol impairment hasn’t been validated by a test. Under North Carolina law, a person can face a DWI conviction if there is a noticeable impairment of the formal function of his or her mental and or physical faculties. Police officers who pull over drivers suspected of a DWI will consider their driving, the suspect’s behavior, and their performance during any field sobriety test.
Charges Resulting from Controlled Substances
A person doesn’t have to have consumed alcohol to be charged with a DWI in North Carolina. For example, a law enforcement officer could arrest someone for a DWI if there is evidence that he or she is under the influence of a controlled substance. Controlled substances include prescription medications, illegal drugs, and even some over-the-counter medicines.
Our DWI Attorneys Provide the Excellent Legal Representation You Deserve
Driving while impaired is a serious criminal offense that could significantly harm your career, your personal life, and your record. The penalties for a DWI include the loss of your driver’s license, jail time, long periods of probation, steep fines, and more. Sometimes people who are facing a charge in North Carolina take the situation too casually or too lightly. They may accept a guilty plea without discussing their case with an experienced DWI attorney.
The Penalties for a DWI in North Carolina
The penalties for a DWI conviction vary in severity. The penalty depends on several different factors, including:
- The level of your charge
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
- Any mitigating or aggravating factors
- Your prior criminal history, if applicable
North Carolina also has a list of grossly aggravating factors that can significantly heighten the potential penalties you will face. Grossly aggravating factors include the following:
- There was a minor in the vehicle at the time
- A person was seriously injured or killed while you were driving under the influence
- You’ve had another conviction within the last seven years
The least serious driving while impaired offense level is a level five. A DWI level five will result in an immediate driver’s license suspension for 30 days. The defendant will also face between 24 hours in 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $200, and the requirement of a substance abuse probation. The most severe charge is called habitual DWI. Those who’ve been arrested for their fourth DWI in ten years will face a felony charge with a mandatory 12-month prison sentence, the possibility of vehicle forfeiture, permanent license revocation, and mandatory substance abuse treatment.
When you work with DWI attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith, you can rest assured that we will provide you with the best legal defense possible. We understand how serious these charges can be and will advocate strongly for the best outcome possible in your case, whether that is a reduction in charges, the dismissal of the charges against you, or the best possible sentencing.
Contact a North Carolina DWI Attorney Today
If you’re facing DWI charges in North Carolina, you need an experienced DWI attorney who is committed to finding you the best path forward. The attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith are ready to protect your rights and provide you with the best legal defense possible in your case. To learn more about how we can help, contact us to schedule your free, confidential consultation.