In North Carolina, it’s unlawful for any individual to operate or attempt to drive a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, intoxicants, drugs, or any combination thereof with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or higher.
If you have been arrested on a DUI charge, it’s very important that you speak with the experienced Winston Salem DUI defense attorney at McIver Law Firm regarding your case and the available legal options. Call us today at 336-727-9886 to schedule a consultation with our criminal defense lawyers.
What is Considered a DWI in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, driving under the influence of any prohibited substance counts as a DWI automatically. Furthermore, driving while impaired due to prescription drugs can qualify for a DWI even when they are used with an active prescription.
What is the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limit in North Carolina?
For persons 21 years or older, the BAC limit in North Carolina is .08 percent. For persons younger than 21 years, any level of alcohol in the blood can result in an underage DWI. For persons with a commercial driver’s license and are in a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is .04 percent.
Is DUI a Criminal Offense in North Carolina?
Yes. A DUI is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense in North Carolina. However, if you have multiple DWIs on your record or the circumstances of your DWI are particularly bad, it can be charged as a felony.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in North Carolina?
The penalties for DUI in North Carolina are as follows:
For a first DUI offense, the penalties may include a 30-day license suspension, fines of up to $200 plus court and fees, probation for up to 3 years, and jail time of up to 60 days.
A second DUI conviction carries a 1-year license suspension, fines of up to $2,000 plus court fees and expenses, probation for up to 5 years, and a prison sentence of 7 days to 1 year.
A third DUI offense carries penalties that include a permanent revocation of your license, fines of up to $4,000 plus court fees and costs, probation for up to 5 years, and jail time ranging from 30 days to 2 years.
Fourth Offense or Greater
The penalties for a fourth DUI offense or greater include jail time of between 1 and 3 years, license revocation for life, and the maximum fine amount is at the discretion of the court.
What Are the Consequences of Causing a Car Accident While Driving Drunk in North Carolina?
Causing a car accident while driving drunk in North Carolina can result in serious legal consequences. The penalties for a DWI-related accident can vary based on factors such as the severity of the accident, injuries sustained by individuals involved, property damage, prior DWI convictions, and other aggravating factors.
It is best to consult with a Winston Salem DUI defense attorney to determine the types of charges you may be facing. Here’s an overview of potential consequences:
- Criminal Charges: If you cause a car accident while driving drunk, you can be charged with a DWI, which is a criminal offense. The penalties for a DWI can include fines, probation, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even jail time, depending on the circumstances.
- Aggravated DWI: If the accident results in serious injury or death to another person, you may be charged with an aggravated DWI, which carries even more severe penalties. An aggravated DWI is a felony offense and can lead to substantial fines, lengthy prison sentences, and the loss of certain rights.
- Civil Liability: In addition to criminal charges, you can also face civil liability for the injuries, property damage, and other losses caused by the accident. Victims of the accident can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against you to seek compensation for medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages.
- License Suspension: If you’re convicted of a DWI related to the accident, your driver’s license may be suspended. The length of the suspension can vary based on factors such as your BAC level and any prior convictions. Additionally, your vehicle may be subject to impoundment.
- Insurance Consequences: A DWI-related accident can lead to significant increases in your car insurance rates or even the cancellation of your policy. Insurance companies often view drunk driving accidents as high-risk behavior and adjust premiums accordingly.
- Criminal Record: A DWI conviction, especially if it involves an accident, will result in a criminal record. This record can have long-term consequences on your personal and professional life, affecting employment opportunities, housing options, and more.
- Ignition Interlock Device: Depending on the circumstances of your case and your prior record, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before starting your car, preventing you from driving if your BAC is above a certain level.
It’s important to note that North Carolina’s DWI laws can be complex and the consequences can be severe. If you’re involved in a car accident while driving drunk, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced Winston Salem DUI defense attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your situation and help you navigate the legal process.
Will I Lose My Driver’s License If I Am Convicted of a DWI?
Yes. The moment you are charged with a DWI, the North Carolina DMV can impose various types of revocations. Not only are there consequences for a DWI charge, but also a conviction. If you are convicted, your driving license will be revoked for a period of at least 1 year.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test. You won’t suffer any consequences to your driver’s license if you do. However, you can still be arrested if other DWI factors such as speeding and swerving while driving were in place.
What Are the Implied Consent Laws in North Carolina?
North Carolina has an implied consent law, which means that if you drive a vehicle in the state, you have already consented to a BAC test if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are both positive and negative consequences of the implied consent laws.
If you consent to the breathalyzer test and the results are well below the .08 legal limit, you have a far better chance of getting your DUI charge either reduced to a lesser offense or outright dismissed.
Unfortunately, if you submit to the test and the results are above the legal limit, you are essentially providing evidence the prosecution can and will likely use against you.
If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, you will obviously deprive the prosecution of this evidence that can be used against you. In the same breath, however, you give them the freedom to argue that you have a guilty mind or consciousness of guilt.
What is a Felony DUI in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, a DUI charge can be considered a felony if certain aggravating factors are present, which include:
- The motorist has 3 or more prior DWI convictions throughout the last 10 years.
- The motorist killed or seriously injured another person when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Under the influence of alcohol, the driver was operating the vehicle with a child under the age of 18.
What Are Some of the Common Defenses in DUI Cases?
Winston Salem DUI defense attorney such as at McIver Law Firm in Winston Salem use various defenses to help their clients escape serious consequences of a DUI conviction. Here are some of the most common defenses:
Failure to Record Your Breath Test and Traffic Stop
Police in North Carolina are required to record traffic stops and any sobriety tests administered during such stops. If the police didn’t record the traffic stop, your lawyer can raise this in your defense.
Invalid Breathalyzer Results
Breathalyzers aren’t as accurate as blood tests, and various factors can impact the results. Your lawyer can argue that the breathalyzer device used produced inaccurate results or was unreliable.
Invalid Field Sobriety Testing
If the field sobriety test administered by the police wasn’t conducted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standards, your lawyer may argue that the results are unreliable and imprecise.
Inadequate Evidence of Impairment
The arresting officer, prosecutor, and criminalist in your DUI case may try proving that your “poor performance” on field sobriety tests indicates that you are guilty of DUI, but your Winston Salem DUI defense attorney can use the unreliability of such tests as part of your defense strategy.
Violations of Your Constitutional Rights
The arresting officer is required to give you your Miranda warnings about the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present. If they failed to give you these warnings or violated your constitutional rights in other ways, this is something your lawyer can use in your defense.
How Can a Winston Salem DUI Defense Attorney Help Me?
Here are the various ways a DWI defense attorney can help you:
Negotiation with Prosecutors
A Winston Salem DWI defense attorney handles negotiations with prosecutors on your behalf. Based on the available evidence, your lawyer will identify the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. The weaker the prosecution’s case, the better the deal your lawyer can negotiate for you.
Getting Your Case Dismissed
You should always try to avoid a DWI conviction on your criminal record by getting the case dismissed. You should contact a Winston Salem DUI defense attorney immediately if you are arrested for DUI to prepare a solid defense to get the case dismissed.
Getting Your Case Expunged
Expungement refers to the act of erasing or removing something completely. Although DWI offenses in North Carolina are rarely ever expunged, you may be eligible for expungement if certain legal criteria are met. Your DWI defense lawyer can help with this.
Contact the Experienced Winston Salem DUI Defense Attorney!
If you are facing DUI charges in North Carolina and urgently need a lawyer’s help, you need to get in touch with the experienced DUI defense lawyers at McIver Law Firm immediately and let them know your story.
With our knowledge and expertise, you can get the legal support you need and the justice you deserve. Call our Winston Salem DUI defense attorney today at 336-727-9886 to start fighting for your rights. We serve clients in Winston Salem as well as surrounding areas.