Carteret County DWI Attorneys
What Constitutes a DWI in North Carolina?
A DWI in Carteret County is a serious offense. As long as an officer reasonably suspects the driver is operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol, they can issue a DWI charge. However, the officer must have probable cause in order to make an arrest, usually determined by a breath, blood, or urine test.
Note that vehicles covered by DWI law include bicycles, golf carts, ATVs, and even lawn mowers. North Carolina also has specific laws for boating under the influence.
The law specifically states that a driver can be charged with driving while impaired if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher or impaired by prescription and/or over-the-counter medicine while driving a motor vehicle. The BAC threshold is lowered for underage drivers (under 21 years old) and commercial drivers, who are not allowed to have any level of alcohol consumption to operate their motor vehicle.
What is NC Zero Tolerance Law?
The NCDPS specifies that “it’s unlawful for the operator of a commercial motor vehicle to drink and drive. The first offense results in a 10-day disqualification to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The second or subsequent offense revokes the driver’s license to operate any vehicle. [There is] zero tolerance for school bus and school activity bus drivers and childcare vehicle drivers. It is unlawful for school bus and school activity bus drivers and childcare vehicle operators (daycare van, etc.) to drink and drive.”
Call (252) 518-4330 or contact us online to discuss your defense with our team today.
Penalties and Sentencing
Generally, most DWI charges are misdemeanors, though some convictions can lead to Felony Habitual DWI (convicted of 3 or more DWIs within 10 years).
The penalties for a DWI conviction in North Carolina will vary depending on these circumstances, ranging from Level A1 (most severe) to Level 5 (least severe):
- Level A1 – a fine of up to $10,000 and a minimum of 1 year of active incarceration, with a maximum of 3 years; a judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.
- Level I – a fine of up to $4,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of 2 years; a judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.
- Level II – a fine of up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 7 days and a maximum of 1 year; a judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.
- Level III – a fine of up to $1,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of 6 months; a judge can suspend the sentence upon the condition that the driver spend 72 hours in jail, perform 72 hours of community service, or not operate a vehicle for 90 days.
- Level IV – a fine of up to $500 and a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days; a judge can suspend the sentence upon the condition that the driver spend 48 hours in jail, perform 48 hours of community service, or not operate a vehicle for 60 days.
- Level V – a fine of up to $200 and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days; a judge can suspend the sentence upon the condition that the driver spend 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service, or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.
Convicted drivers will also likely be subject to a substance abuse assessment program and will be required to attend a treatment program recommended by the assessing agency. Additionally, officers may seize the defendant’s vehicle upon arrest if they have prior DWI infractions.
When facing DWI charges, it is advisable to hire an attorney who can mitigate or defeat the charges against you. In some cases, the level of the charge may be reduced, or you may even be able to have your charges dismissed entirely, depending on the details of the arrest and the specifics of your case.
Refusing a Breath Test
Note that, while you technically have the right to refuse an evidentiary grade breathalyzer, there are consequences to doing so. A refusal will result in a mandatory license suspension for 1 year, and the officer may nonetheless get a warrant for a blood draw, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, a driver’s refusal is presented as evidence of their guilt at trial, so it is best to simply perform the test.
Impact on Your Criminal Record
A DWI conviction will remain on your record forever, which could lead to more severe felony sentencing down the line if you are charged with another DWI. However, it is possible in some situations to expunge (clear) your record. Consult our legal team to discuss whether this is a possibility for your particular case.
At Cummings & Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC, we have more than 14 years of experience defending clients against criminal charges, including DWI. In fact, we have handled over 1,000 DWI cases and are deeply familiar with the DWI criminal system in Carteret County.
We are equipped with former prosecution experience and a team of NC board-certified paralegals to assist us in court, as well as important prosecutorial relationships and legal counsel from a special investigative agent of the state.
If you have been charged with DWI, it is best to consult with an experienced Carteret County DWI defense lawyer from our legal team at Cummings & Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible. We are prepared to go the distance to provide our clients with hard-hitting and aggressive defense when it is needed most. In an ideal situation, we can argue for reduced or dismissed charges and get you back on the road soon.
For experienced representation in your DWI case, contact Cummings & Kennedy Law Firm online or at (252) 518-4330.
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