Driving While Impaired, also known as a DWI, is a serious crime with severe punishments, so you need experienced legal help from Cotten Law.DWIs are usually classified as a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders are charged with a felony.
These cases often start with an assumption of impairment. Cotten Law will work hard to fight the DWI and controlled substance charges. North Carolina has a 7-year look-back period. This means that the DWI will stay on your record for seven years and if you commit another drunk driving offense within the seven years, you can receive severe fines and more jail time.
Consequences of DWIs include immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days. Driving while impaired can also cause you to spend 24 hours to 60 days in jail.
Contact Cotten Law to find out your rights after a DWI. (919) 586-7072
It is almost never advisable to plead guilty at your first court setting. The time following a DWI charge is a very stressful time in your life. Some people feel that they cannot handle the constant pressure of simply not knowing what will happen to them as their court date approaches. Many of these people simply desire to get the entire incident behind them and enter a plea of guilty at their first court setting. This is almost never a wise decision as the District Attorney’s job is to prosecute you to the fullest extent and no amount of remorse or guilt you may be feeling will gain you any favors in court. The District Attorneys know that this is a very trying moment in your life and that you are anxious to put the charge behind you. This is the reason that most District Attorneys offer their worst “deals” at the first court appearance.
Usually, a DWI case can take anywhere from six (6) to nine (9) months. The reason is that Wake, Harnett, and Johnston County Courts have an enormous number of cases. Most of the cases are not just DWI cases, and the courts are slow to process them all.
I advise all clients that they should expect a trial. A trial may not be the best option in all cases depending on the facts. However, it is your right to have a trial and make the State prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A trial is sometimes your best chance for a successful resolution of your case depending on the facts of your charge. However, a trial will not be scheduled for six (6) to nine (9) months. Do not let the stress of the approaching court date get to you.
Ultimately the agency will make a recommendation to you about further treatment, if any, you should undergo. If no further treatment is recommended, you will need to at least complete an ADETS course, which is a 16-hour course about why it’s important not to drink and drive. In many cases, the agency will at least recommend a 20-hour class. In some cases, the agency will recommend more intensive treatment.
If you want to restore your limited driving privileges during the thirty (30) day initial suspension, you must provide an alcohol assessment and proof of at least pre-enrollment in the course (if recommended by the agency) to the court. Therefore, the sooner you get your alcohol assessment, the sooner I can file the petition for your limited driving privilege.
Additionally, an alcohol assessment is also valuable if you later plead guilty or are convicted of a DWI, as it can be used as evidence of a mitigating factor for sentencing purposes.
An alcohol assessment will cost $100. Upon completion, you can have the agency fax me your “alcohol assessment” directly. If you hire me, my fax number is (919) 586-7073.
If you can afford to take the classes, you should do so. The 20-hour class that is frequently recommended costs around $500. The classes usually are available in the evening and also on weekends. You can work the classes into your schedule.
North Carolina law specifically allows the District Attorney to prove you were impaired in one of two ways. Either the District Attorney can prove you had a BAC of .08 or higher or the District Attorney can prove that you were “appreciably impaired” at the time you were driving by an “impairing substance”. Proof of appreciable impairment could include any observations made by police or witnesses: for instance, maybe your car swerved outside of your lane, you slurred your words while talking at the stop, the officer smelled alcohol, or maybe you made statements that indicated you were appreciably impaired.
First, a District Attorney is very slow to dismiss any DWI charge brought by the police.
These cases are frustrating, but if you blew below a .08, you have a reasonable – possibly even an excellent chance – of being found not-guilty by a jury. The reason is that many jurors view a result of .07 or less as an indication that you were not drunk.
Second, in some cases where other substances – marijuana or other drugs or prescribed medicine – are suspected, the District Attorney will argue that a .07 or below merely shows that the person wasn’t drunk on alcohol. The District Attorney will also argue that the person was been impaired by some other drug or medicine.
Third, the District Attorney will sometimes argue that the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of .07 was lower because you were tested a half hour after the stop. The District Attorney will argue that the BAC was probably above a .08 at the time of the stop.
In reality, if you did blow below a .08, your case is much stronger, in large part because many juries will not convict if they believe your BAC did not exceed the legal limit.
First, there are arguments for your lawyer to make about the circumstances leading up to your arrest.
In the United States, police are not allowed to stop people at random and arrest them for DWI (or any offense for that matter). If the police did not have reasonable suspicion to justify a stop of your car, the entire stop may have been unconstitutional, and the whole case could be thrown out.
Second, North Carolina law requires strict adherence to regulations that control the calibration of the intoxilyzer and its operation. There may be reasons to suspect that the intoxilyzer exam was conducted improperly, or by an officer who had not taken up-to-date certification classes. In these cases, the results of the exam may be inadmissible, and the defendant will likely be found not-guilty.
Third, there may be reasons to believe that the intoxilyzer read a higher-than-proper result. For instance, certain medical conditions, including certain diets like the Atkins Diet, can induce conditions in the body that generate chemicals that produce abnormally high breathalyzer results. For these reasons, your DWI lawyer should ask for a brief medical history so that he or she can assess whether any of these conditions affected your results.
Fourth, you may have consumed your last drink immediately before getting into the car. If that was the case, the breathalyzer exam, conducted thirty (30) minutes after your stop may give a higher reading than you had at the time of your stop.
There are other reasons to explain a high BAC reading, and other ways to challenge a breathalyzer that was improperly given or given without you being informed of your rights.
On a positive note, many courts around the country are beginning to realize just how faulty and unreliable these breathalyzer machines really are. The bad news is that change will probably be slow in coming to North Carolina, and too late to help in your case.
If you want to talk to me about the specifics of your case, feel free to contact me at (919) 586-7072 weekdays, evenings, or weekends. I answer the phone, so you will talk directly with me about the case. When you reach me, I will answer the questions that I can answer. Sometimes I’ll need more information, including information you don’t have about the police report or any blood tests performed. Sometimes I will need to do further research before providing you with an answer.
But I will be as upfront as I can. If you’d like to sit down for a meeting, I’d be happy to schedule a time for you to either come to my office, or for me to visit you at your home. I am flexible, and work evenings and weekends if necessary.
If we do meet and you do decide to hire me, I will ask you to sign a “Letter of Engagement” which describes the legal services I provide, and the fees I will charge. Unfortunately, I am unable to do things on your case without some sort of commitment from you to hire me.
In addition, we will discuss a payment arrangement. Ideally you will be able to pay at least part of the fee at our first meeting, but I am flexible and willing to accommodate a variety of payment arrangements.
I accept cash, checks, credit cards, and payments by third parties such as parents, friends, or loved ones who want to help you out.
In general, I expect payment before your case is finally concluded, but because a DWI case usually takes between 6 to 9 months, sometimes longer, there’s time to work out a schedule that will not be too much of a burden on you.
Feel free to call me (919) 586-7072 weekdays, evenings, or weekends.