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Making Your Case against DWI with a Raleigh DWI Lawyer

Howard Kurtz - 7/22/2013

Being the mayor offers no exception against DWI cases in North Carolina—not even when you get a 0.00 on a breathalyzer test—so it's always good to have a knowledgeable Raleigh DWI lawyer that you can trust. This is exactly what New Bern Mayor Lee W. Bettis Jr. showed when he was arrested and charged earlier in May, as reported by the Sun Journal Staff.

The arrest came after a couple of 911 calls to Havelock police from motorists who were concerned about Bettis' driving. One of the motorists even followed the mayor through town, reporting on Bettis being “everywhere” and almost hitting several people as he maneuvered his Chevrolet van; at one point, he was even reported to have swerved off and back onto the road. Bettis was eventually stopped by a police unit just past the Havelock Walmart.

Bettis asserted that he was tired after moving furniture all weekend. This claim was supported by a breathalyzer result of 0.00, but this alone didn't clear the mayor of charges. Based from observations on his driving and his failure to complete field sobriety tests, he was taken before a magistrate who then issued a warrant for DWI and set a court date for July 18. Aside from DWI, Bettis also faces charges on failure to obey highway markings and failure to maintain lane control.

While many people think that passing a breath test is enough to be let go, this actually doesn't happen often. Usually, additional tests would still be conducted, and it is a rare case when a driver is let go without further investigation. In fact, whether you consent to or refuse to undergo a chemical test, you can still be charged and convicted if you were found to be obviously or “appreciably impaired”.

It is indeed within a driver's rights to refuse a breath test in North Carolina; however, this is usually more trouble than it's worth. First of all, even if you refuse the breath test, a blood test is still mandatory if you're arrested. Second, refusal can stand as evidence against you and can be taken by the jury as a sign of guilt. Lastly, refusing to submit to a chemical test suspends your license for a year—the soonest you would be able to drive is after six months’ suspension, with limited driving privileges, and only if it's your first refusal and you haven't been convicted of DWI in the past seven years.

All in all, it's usually not a good idea to refuse a chemical test, and Bettis may have avoided more trouble by undergoing the standard tests. However, this is no assurance that he'd get off scot-free; winning the case will depend greatly on his lawyer's skills. For anyone facing DWI charges in Raleigh, make sure to consult with an experienced Raleigh DWI attorney such as those at Kurtz & Blum, because while getting accused with DWI is a big problem as it is, getting convicted is even worse.

New Bern mayor charged with DWI; Bettis says he was tired


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