Charlotte DWI Defense Attorneys
Defending the Rights of North Carolinians
The state of North Carolina has instituted some of the most punitive laws governing DWIs and in the country. Being convicted of a DWI, or “driving while impaired,” can net you prison time, a suspended or revoked license, and exorbitant fines, even for first-time offenders. Dealing with DWI charges is an expensive, time-consuming process that can quickly upend your life. Convictions can limit future employment opportunities and result in your being denied coverage by insurance companies. Repeat offenders can even have their vehicle seized and sold by the government.
With so much at stake, it is imperative you retain the services of qualified legal representation when facing a DWI charge. Our DWI defense lawyers in Charlotte at Oakhurst Legal Group are prepared to do whatever it takes to defend you and protect your future. We have experience pursuing unique strategies to help our clients fight DWI charges and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing legal options available to you.
Your Rights in a DWI-Related Traffic Stop
When you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer who suspects you are driving while impaired, they will likely request you take a breath- or blood-based test to determine your alcohol concentration and/or whether any drugs are in your system. You are considered to be driving while impaired if your BAC level results return at 0.08 or higher. Commercial vehicle drivers and those are under the age of 21 can be convicted if their results are at or above 0.04.
An officer cannot force you to take either type of test, but understand that North Carolina law will penalize you for refusing. Any driver who declines a requested breath or blood test will suffer a 30-day revocation of their driver’s license ahead of a court hearing. Even if you are not found guilty of a DWI, you will most likely face an additional 1-year revocation due to your refusal to take the test.
It is important to remember that the results of a blood or breath test will be used against you in court, so it may still be in your best interest to refuse a test if you suspect you are impaired. The penalties for being convicted of a DWI are often harsher than those of refusing a test. Some driving privileges can also be reinstated after 6 months of the revocation period have passed.
You have a right to speak to legal representation before deciding whether to take a requested test. Avoid becoming belligerent with law enforcement officers during the stop, as aggressive behavior can lead to additional charges. Our Charlotte DWI defense attorneys are prepared to immediately advise you on whether you should consider declining a requested test.
Consequences for DWI Charges and Convictions in North Carolina
Being convicted of or even merely charged with a DWI or DUI can lead to severe immediate and long-term consequences. The extent of the punitive measures you might face depends on whether you are a first-time or repeat offender along with extenuating circumstances surrounding the incident.
Misdemeanor DWI charges are divided into five levels that carry the following consequences:
Types of Charges for DWI / DUI
The level of misdemeanor you are charged with depends largely on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Repeat offenders, those endangering minors, and those who cause injuries in accidents as a result of their impairment are more likely to receiver Level III, Level II, or Level I charges. First-time offenders without any compounding circumstances are more likely to receive the less harsh Level V or Level IV charges.
It is also possible to be charged with a felony DWI if you already have at least 3 DWI convictions on your record any time within the past 7 years. A felony DWI conviction requires a minimum of 1 year in prison, a sentence that cannot be suspended.
Commercial drivers receive harsher considerations if convicted of a DWI. There is a zero-tolerance policy in place for school bus drivers to drive while impaired. Other types of commercial drivers will lose their certification to drive their commercial vehicle for 10 days for a first offense and permanently should they be convicted a second time.
Drivers under the age of 21 also face stiff penalties and can be more easily be convicted in a suspected DWI incident. North Carolina stipulates no driver under the age of 21 can have a BAC level of 0.04 or higher, a significantly lower threshold than the legal limit for other drivers. Younger drivers can refuse to take a blood or breath test, but they can still be arrested and convicted of a DWI if an officer smells any alcohol on their breath at the time of the traffic stop.
Finally, if you are arrested for a suspected DWI while your license has been revoked as a result of a previous DWI, law enforcement has the ability to seize and sell your car. Officers have the ability to do this immediately at the time of arrest and do not have to wait until you are convicted in a trial. The only way to recover the vehicle is if it can be demonstrated the owner was not the one driving while impaired and had no active role in the incident.
Why You Need an Attorney to Defend You When Arrested for a DWI
Judges typically have a large amount of discretion in the extent of your sentencing. In cases where you have already taken a BAC test or caused serious injury, it can be difficult to avoid a conviction outright. Our Charlotte DWI defense lawyers can vigorously defend you and work to get you the most reasonable sentence possible.
At Oakhurst Legal Group, our criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte are committed to helping our clients achieve the best results possible in their case, no matter what criminal charges they face. Going up against a DWI can be frightening, but our legal team will be with you every step of the way and are prepared to go the extra mile in limiting the charge’s impact on your future. We will pursue every possible solution and strategy when arguing your case.