Being arrested and convicted of DWI — driving while impaired — in North Carolina can be a scary and costly experience. Even at the lowest level of punishment, a North Carolina DWI conviction can mean time in jail, thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, and the loss of driving privileges. A DWI conviction can also be held against you by auto insurers, potential employers, and others for years to come.
It is a mistake to plead guilty to a DWI without a lawyer, and it is a colossal mistake to face a DWI charge on your own. Schedule a free consultation for an honest assessment of your case today by calling (919) 336-1541 or filling out our online contact form.
What Should I Do If I Am Stopped for a DWI?
If you are stopped for Driving While Impaired, the police may ask you to take two sorts of tests at the site of the stop: field sobriety tests and a road side breath test.
Field sobriety tests are things like walking a straight line, standing on one foot, or asking you to follow a pen or a light with your eyes. A portable breath test is exactly what it sounds like: you breathe through a tube into a machine that tests your breath for alcohol content.
Some things you should do if you are stopped for a DWI include:
Refuse the Field Sobriety Tests
You are not obligated to take either sort of test. My advice: unless you are stone cold sober, unless you have had nothing to drink for 24 hours, politely refuse. People who have been drinking are very, very bad at guessing whether they will be able to pass these tests and these days, a single cocktail can contain quite a bit of liquor.
If there is any reason to doubt, DON’T do it. The police officer may arrest you, but by choosing not to take the field sobriety tests and the portable breath test, you are making it much harder for the police officer to justify the arrest to a judge. You have the right to say, “No.” Don’t give up your rights.
If you do decide to take a breath test after an arrest, you have the right to have a witness watch you take the test so long as you can get that witness to the police station within 30 minutes. Call a witness. Even if you cannot get them to the station in time, you will still delay the test for half an hour. In many cases, this delay is long enough to lower your breath and blood alcohol levels below the legal limit.
Don’t Answer Questions About Your Drinking
Whatever you do, DO NOT answer questions about your drinking to the police. One of the standard questions that the police ask is how impaired you are on a scale of 1 to 10. This is a trick question. The police do not have to prove that you are drunk to convict you of DWI. They only have to show that you are affected by alcohol. Any answer above zero is admitting that you are impaired. You don’t have to answer their questions. Don’t do it.
Do I Need a DWI Lawyer or Can I Represent Myself?
The Short Answer Is That You Should Always Have a Good DWI Attorney in Your Corner If You Are Charged With DWI.
If you are charged with DWI, you should have a skilled and experienced DWI lawyer by your side. Hire us, hire someone else, or, if you can’t afford one, ask for an attorney to be appointed to you. The worst mistake you could possibly make in a DWI is to try to handle it yourself.
There are a staggering number of legal issues that can become important when evaluating driving while impaired cases. Read through our pages on drunk driving cases. Watch our videos. If after all that you still think that this is something that you can handle on your own, then that is your right and your prerogative. We wish you the best of luck…just don’t forget the old expression, the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. The system is a maze. You should have counsel who knows which route to take and why. The alternative can lead to a very hard lesson.