DWI is a serious crime, and North Carolina has a reputation for treating even a first-time offense seriously. If law enforcement charges you or someone you know with DWI, you may be facing the risk of jail time and punitive fines. If you need help with your case, you need to speak to a Cherryville DWI lawyer as soon as possible to begin formulating a legal strategy and increasing your chances of avoiding jail time.
At The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford, we have experience working in criminal defense and helping those dealing with a DWI. Our lead attorney, Brent D. Ratchford, can work tirelessly to advocate for you in court. Our team can give you sound legal advice to navigate this difficult case.
The police in Cherryville, NC can charge you with DWI any time they believe that you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point that it impairs your ability. Any driver with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 percent is driving while intoxicated and risks jail time for the crime.
Police can only pull you over on suspicion of DWI if they have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence. They may observe you breaking the rules of the road, such as crossing the center line or failing to stop at a stop sign. Alternatively, the police may discover that you were DWI if you cause an accident and they respond to it.
Once the police pull you over and have reason to believe that you are DWI, they will ask you to participate in field sobriety tests. These will test your motor skills and include walking in a straight line, balancing on one foot, or following a penlight. If you fail the tests, the police may arrest you on suspicion of DWI. They may then ask you to take a breathalyzer test or submit to a blood draw.
You also have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test, though the police can then request that you take a breathalyzer test. Refusal of the breathalyzer will allow law enforcement to suspend your license for one year.
Aggravating factors come in two forms: normal and gross. Grossly aggravating factors will net you some of the highest penalties for a DWI. The four grossly aggravating circumstances are:
Judges can use aggravating factors against you when sentencing you, and the prosecutor may increase the charges you face with enough aggravating reasons. Some of these circumstances include:
Mitigating factors act as a counterbalance to aggravating ones. These circumstances can help you get a lighter charge and a more lenient sentence from a judge if the court finds you guilty. Some of the primary mitigating factors that the court will look at include:
There are six levels of DWI charges in North Carolina. The prosecution will decide on the charges they want to seek against you by analyzing all the mitigating and aggravating factors of a case. Once they balance the two, they can assign a level to pursue in court.
The six levels are:
Hiring a criminal defense attorney gives you a better chance of avoiding some of the harshest punishments that the court can lay down for your DWI. North Carolina treats DWI seriously, and the punishments can be severe for citizens, even at lower levels and for first-time offenses.
Your attorney can ensure that the legal system protects your rights throughout the process. At times, prosecutors and law enforcement will attempt to circumvent due process and violate your civil liberties. In these cases, your attorney can use this against them and even suppress vital evidence to the prosecution. A layperson will have difficulty noticing some of these shortcuts.
While you may want to advocate for yourself, it is very difficult to prove innocence in a DWI case. Many of the defenses rely on obscure parts of the law, and you won’t have time to study precedence and case law. Your attorney already knows the relevant facts and can use them to your advantage in the courtroom.
Any legal professional would advise you to hire an attorney when dealing with any criminal charge, including a DWI. Your attorney can help you throughout the legal process, attempting to suppress illegally obtained evidence and propping up your mitigating factors if it comes to sentencing. While they cannot guarantee a not-guilty verdict, a lawyer gives you a better chance in open court.
While the cost of a DWI attorney will vary depending on their hourly rate, the nature of your case, and the attorney’s experience level, you should expect to pay around $2,500 for your legal care when the case is over. You should always discuss fees with your attorney before hiring them.
DWIs are almost always a misdemeanor in North Carolina. The police can charge someone with a felony for a DWI if they have three prior DWI convictions in the past seven years or if the incident led to someone’s death. Regardless of what DWI charge you have, a guilty verdict can affect your life for years to come.
A statute of limitations helps the court avoid getting bogged down by old cases from a long time ago. They give the state or individuals in a civil case a limited amount of time to pursue legal action. In the case of DWI, the state has two years from the date of the incident to prosecute a defendant for the crime.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a DWI, you need to take it seriously and be proactive. A single charge can impact your life. At The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford, we aim to represent you at every turn. Contact us today for a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you in a difficult time.