The holidays are supposed to be fun and filled with laughing and hanging out with friends and family. And for many, the holidays mean hanging out with friends and family with a beer, glass of wine, or an eggnog cocktail in one hand. The problem is when one glass of wine leads to three and then feeling pretty tipsy at the end of the party and having to find a safe way home.
This situation is all too common in Beaufort and the DWI lawyers at Cummings & Kennedy have seen it all. We know that you you want to have a fun, worry-free Christmas and New Years, and we don’t want to get in the way of you having a grand ol’ time. However, we do want to ensure that you and your family, and other drivers on the road, remain safe.As you’re hopping from house party to work party this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent you from being pulled over and potentially charged with a DWI.
- Plan Ahead: If you’re going to party and you know the host particularly enjoys having a good time, plan on only having one drink at the beginning of the party. Make sure to also get in a few snacks throughout the night.
- Create a Back-Up Plan: If you do decide to have more than one drink, ask the host ahead of time if you can sleep on their couch if necessary.
- Choose a Designated Driver: It’s not the most fun responsibility, but it is the safest. Choose a designated driver, or select yourself to be the driver, and make sure that it’s someone who is reliable and won’t “forget” halfway through the party and start drinking themselves.
- Know Your Limit: The BAC (blood alcohol level) in Beaufort, and all of North Carolina, is 0.08 percent. In addition to the BAC limit, you should also be familiar with your personal limit. If one champagne cocktails is enough for you to feel tipsy, stick to just one and give yourself enough time to eat something and rest your body before driving. And keep in mind, the one drink each hour is not a safe rule to go by. The BAC level is determined by your body weight and metabolism. Everyone is different.
- Know What You’re Drinking: It’s also important to understand that not all drinks have the same amount of alcohol in them. Some beers have alcohol percentages as low as 4 percent, some as high as 10 percent or higher. Wine generally has more alcohol than beer, about 12 percent per five ounces. Hard liquor contains the highest alcohol content with 40 percent alcohol in a standard 1.5 ounce drink.
- Know Who to Call: If you are tipsy and need a ride home, know who you can call to come pick you up. Or, if you do drive home and are pulled over, have the number for a DWI lawyer on hand. If you need to call an attorney at Cummings & Kennedy, our number is 252-728-1208.
We hope that this doesn’t become the case, but if you are pulled over during the holidays and charged with a DWI, here are a few things you should know.
What is DWI?
DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. You can be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs) in order to be charged with a DWI. The officer who pulls you over needs to have reasonable suspicion in order to request a breathalyzer test or to charge you with a DWI.
What Are DWI Conviction Penalties?
When convicted of a DWI, there are five levels of penalties. Your penalty will depend on the severity of the situation and your past criminal history, if any. The least severe penalty is level five, which is a fine of up to $200 and a minimum 24-hour jail sentence. The penalties continue to get steeper with each level. If you are convicted of a Level I DWI, you can receive a fine of up to $4,000 and a minimum of 30 days in jail. Check out the infographic below to learn more about each level and its penalty.
How Long Does a DWI Conviction Stay on My Record?
After being convicted of a DWI, it will remain on your record for seven years. If you receive another DWI during that time, the penalties will be more severe than the first. If you need help having your record expunged, call the DWI lawyers at Cummings & Kennedy in Beaufort.
Am I required to consent to a breathalyzer test?
The short answer to this is yes. North Carolina is an “implied consent” state, meaning that when you get in your car and are under the influence, you are required to submit to testing when asked. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can still be charged with a DWI and the penalties may be worse than if you had taken the test. When you are ever unsure about what to do, don’t hesitate to call a criminal lawyer.
Do I have to be driving a vehicle to be charged with a DWI?
In short, the vehicle does not have to be in motion in order for you to be charged with a DWI. However, the car does need to be running. A “vehicle” in North Carolina can also include bicycles.
Even though the holidays are fun and exciting, being charged with a DWI can be a scary situation. If you find yourself facing a DWI charge, contact the lawyers at Cummings & Kennedy as soon as possible. Our DWI attorneys have worked with dozens of cases and we know what to takes to fight hard for your rights. From the very beginning, you can count on us to provide you with a thorough experience. We will take the time to answer any and all of your questions so that you are comfortable with each step of the process.
Before heading out to your next party, put our number in your phone so you can call a DWI lawyer if you need one – 252-518-4330.