Defense of DWI Cases in NC
Getting charged with DWI can be frightening and costly. North Carolina has implemented harsh penalties for DWI convictions, which can include jail time, fines, and license revocation. Repeat offenders can be punished even more severely. A DWI conviction also creates a permanent criminal record and can follow you for years, affecting your insurance premiums, employment opportunities, and other aspects of your life.
If you were arrested and charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you shouldn’t just accept guilt. An experienced DWI defense attorney can fight for your rights, defend your freedoms, and seek the best possible resolution. Contact a Raleigh DWI defense lawyer at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC and tell us about your situation.
What Is Considered a DWI in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, you can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) if you allegedly:
- Drive while under the influence of intoxicating substances
- Drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher
- Drive with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your system (Schedule 1 drugs include LSD, opiates, heroin, and ecstasy)
Are There Different Degrees of DWI Charges in North Carolina?
There are five levels of DWI charges in North Carolina. Level Five DWIs are the least serious, while Level One DWIs are the most serious offenses. Level Three, Four, and Five DWIs make up the bulk of DWI offenses in North Carolina.
The level of the offense is determined by weighing aggravating factors against mitigating factors. Aggravating factors may include gross impairment (for alcohol, a BAC of .15 percent or higher), reckless driving, and driving with a suspended or revoked license. Mitigating factors include mild impairment, a safe driving record, and impairment caused by a lawful drug, such as a prescription medication.
For a DWI to be charged as a Level One or Two offense, gross aggravating factors must be present. Gross aggravating factors include a conviction for a DWI within the last seven years, driving with a license that was revoked due to a prior DWI, driving with a minor passenger in the car, and seriously injuring someone due to impairment.
A single gross aggravating factor results in Level Two charges, while two gross aggravating factors lead to Level One cases. A driver who allegedly has three or more aggravating factors can face aggravated Level One penalties.
What Are the Consequences of Being Charged with a DWI?
The potential penalties of a DWI conviction depend on the level of the charge and break down as follows:
- Level Five – Penalties include a maximum fine of $200 and between 24 hours and 60 days in jail. The sentence for a Level Five DWI can be suspended by a judge if the motorist spends 24 hours in jail or performs at least 24 hours of community service.
- Level Four – Penalties include a fine of no more than $500 and between 48 hours and 120 days behind bars. A judge can suspend the sentence on the condition the motorist spends 48 hours in jail or completes 48 hours of community service.
- Level Three – Level Three DWIs are punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and a jail sentence that ranges anywhere from 72 hours to six months. A judge may suspend the sentence if the motorist completes 72 hours of community service or spends 72 hours behind bars.
- Level Two – Level Two DWI offenses are punishable by no more than $2,000 in fines and seven days to one year in jail.
- Level One – Penalties include a fine of up to $4,000 and 30 days to two years in jail.
- Level A1 – The most serious sentencing level for a DWI is Level A1 and can be imposed if the judge finds there are three or more grossly aggravating factors involved in the DWI. A conviction can result in a maximum three-year active sentence with a minimum term of confinement of one year in addition to paying a fine up to $10,000.
If the defendant is placed on probation for any of the above offenses, they will have to obtain a substance abuse assessment and complete alcohol education or treatment to restore their driver’s license.
A DWI conviction can continue to affect your everyday life after you’ve served your sentence. With a DWI on your criminal record, you could have a hard time landing a new job, applying for housing, or getting student aid. That’s why it is imperative that you hire a DWI defense lawyer to help you challenge the prosecution’s case and protect your future.
What Defense is Available in a DWI Case?
There are numerous potential strategies we could use to defend you against a DWI charge. As our DWI defense attorneys in Raleigh put your case together, we can explore defenses such as these:
- Police lacked reasonable suspicion – For a police officer to lawfully pull you over, they must have a reasonable articulable suspicion that you are committing an offense. Instincts and assumptions do not meet this standard. The officer’s suspicion must be based on articulable facts, or they cannot legally pull you over.
- Unreliable breath tests – One of the tools officers use to gauge the level of alcohol in a driver’s system is the breathalyzer. Breath tests are not as reliable as blood tests, and outside variables can also impact test results. Breathalyzer devices have also been known to produce inaccurate results.
- Improper blood testing – For blood test results to be legitimate, blood must be appropriately handled and stored. If it isn’t, the test results might not be accurate. If mistakes are made in the chain of custody, we may argue that any blood test evidence presented by the prosecution cannot be relied upon.
- Unreliable field sobriety test results – If a field sobriety test was not performed according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards, we could argue that the results of your field sobriety test are imprecise and unreliable.
What if This Is My First DWI Charge?
First-time offenses are often misdemeanors, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. North Carolina’s strict DWI laws mean that even first-time offenders can face incarceration, costly fines, license suspension, and other penalties.
If you have been charged with a DWI for the first time, reach out for help. Our attorneys may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. If a conviction can’t be avoided, we will argue for a lenient sentence, such as probation. You can count on a DWI defense attorney in North Carolina at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC to protect your freedom and reputation.
What if I Was Underage When I Received My DWI Charge?
In Raleigh, NC, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive after consuming alcohol. If a test shows that an underage driver has a detectable amount of alcohol in their system, they can be charged with DWI. Charges trigger an automatic 30-day pretrial license revocation, while conviction carries a year-long revocation, in addition to the penalties you face for DWI.
How Can a DWI Defense Lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina Help with My Case?
The Raleigh DWI defense attorneys of Kurtz & Blum, PLLC have extensive experience protecting the rights and freedoms of those charged with driving while impaired. Contact us today for an initial case evaluation and to learn more about your options. The faster we can get to work on your DWI defense, the sooner you can move on with your life.