Defending Against Drunk Driving Charges In Wake County
Driving while impaired, also known as a DWI, is a serious crime in Raleigh, with severe punishments awaiting those convicted. While first-time DWIs are usually classified as a misdemeanor, repeat offenders are frequently charged with a felony. North Carolina has a 7-year look-back period, meaning the DWI will stay on your record for seven years. If you commit another drunk driving offense within the seven years following your first DWI, you can receive severe fines and more jail time. This is why it is essential to seek the help of a Wake County DWI or DUI attorney.
Just a few of the potential consequences of a DWI or DUI conviction in North Carolina include:
- License suspension for 30 days
- Up to 60 days in jail
- Difficulty securing employment, housing, education and loan opportunities in the future
We are not a megafirm at Cotten Law Firm. Attorney Jeremy Cotten is committed to helping his clients in any way he can. In our eyes, our clients go beyond names and paychecks. In our efforts to defend our clients’ rights and defend their freedom, we are proud to be passionate allies.
What’s The Difference Between A DUI & DWI In North Carolina?
In North Carolina, there is no distinct difference between DUI and DWI. Both terms (and their abbreviations) refer to the same offense of driving under the influence or impaired driving. However, technically speaking, DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence,” and DWI stands for “Driving While Impaired.” The North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) use the term “Driving While Impaired” to describe the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other impairing substance. So, while DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, the legal term used in North Carolina is DWI.
North Carolina DWI Laws
You may be arrested for DWI if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and your BAC tests are above the legal limit. The legal limit varies depending on the driver, as there are three categories by which BAC is judged:
- For drivers 21 years of age or older, the legal limit is .08%.
- For commercial drivers, the limit is .04%.
- For drivers under 21, any alcohol concentration is worthy of DWI charges.
There are several opportunities for your Wake County DWI lawyer to defend you from the harsh consequences of a conviction.
What Does The Prosecution Need To Prove In A DUI/DWI Case?
According to North Carolina’s DWI/DUI laws, it is up to the prosecution to prove the following:
- You were driving.
- You were driving on a public highway, street or parking lot.
- Your physical and/or mental faculties were “appreciably impaired” as a result of an impairing substance, or your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was at or above the legal limit of .08%.
Our DWI attorney in Raleigh could employ several possible defenses on behalf of someone charged with DWI, depending on the unique circumstances of their case.
How To Defend Against DWI Charges
Some of the most prevalent defenses against DWI charges include:
- Inaccurate field sobriety tests and/or the erroneous administration of those tests
- Illegally stopping an individual or vehicle without reasonable suspicion
- Improper seizure
- Conflicting evidence from witnesses
- Extenuating circumstances to explain a failed roadside sobriety test (such as injury, anxiety or exhaustion)
Ultimately, the circumstances surrounding your case will play a significant role in determining your options. It is essential to have the support of a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help you learn more about what you can expect.
Answers To Questions About Drunk Driving Charges
Facing DWI charges can come with many questions about what comes next and any long-term consequences. Here are answers to some of the questions we often receive about drunk driving charges.
How is DWI determined?
Driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina is determined by several factors, including the results of a breathalyzer test, a blood alcohol test or other chemical testing. The results of these tests are compared to the legal BAC limits for drivers in North Carolina.
For drivers 21 years of age and older, the legal BAC limit is .08%. For drivers under 21, the legal BAC limit is .00%. You can be charged with DWI if your BAC is at or above the legal limit.
In addition to BAC, other factors that can be used to determine DWI include:
- Your driving behavior, such as swerving, speeding or failing to maintain your lane
- Your physical appearance, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol on your breath.
- The results of field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or the walk-and-turn test.
Typically, an officer only needs to witness a few of these behaviors to move forward with DWI charges. It is important to talk to a skilled attorney who can support you as you move forward.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer or another form of chemical testing?
While you may refuse to test, it could lead to unintended consequences. North Carolina is one of several states that has “implied consent” rules. That means anyone driving a vehicle in the state consents to chemical testing when charged with a DWI. Typically, when you refuse chemical testing, you will likely lose your license for one year. However, in some cases, you may be eligible for limited driving privileges during your suspension. You may also be able to appeal the revocation.
Can I get my charge reduced from a DWI to something lesser?
Typically, in North Carolina, the answer is no. While there are limited instances where a DWI has been reduced to a lesser charge, like reckless driving, it is very uncommon. However, a skilled attorney can help you fight DWI charges and help you seek the most favorable outcome possible.
Can I get a DWI expunged from my record?
While many crimes are eligible for expungement in North Carolina, DWI is currently not one of them. Whether your conviction comes after a guilty plea or following a trial, current laws exclude DWI from the list of expungement-eligible crimes.
Contact Our DWI Lawyer In Raleigh Today
If you are in need of a DUI lawyer in Raleigh, we are here to help. At Cotten Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced legal team is committed to providing our clients with the most favorable representation and support throughout their cases. Whether you have been charged with a first-time DWI offense or have a history of DUI convictions, we have the knowledge and skills necessary to guide you through the process and fight for your rights. Our team understands that being charged with a DWI can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, and that’s why we strive to provide you with the personalized guidance and attention you deserve. Contact us today by calling us at 984-600-3090 or use our online form to request a consultation.