If you are a driver in North Carolina, it is important for you to understand all of the rules and expectations that accompany your driving privileges. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is strictly prohibited. There are severe consequences if you are caught driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Unlike many other criminal offenses, committing a DWI offense is not always intentional. Many people who are arrested for DWI are unaware that they have exceeded the legal limit. This means that a DWI charge can happen to anyone, even those who would not otherwise dream of breaking the law. However, the intention does not matter in court, and many people face lifelong consequences because of a single mistake.
Regardless of your circumstances, you have the right to fight your case in court. With the help of an attorney, you can make every effort to avoid a North Carolina DWI conviction and the myriad of consequences that accompany it. If you wish to give yourself the best chance of a reduced or eliminated sentence, you absolutely need a DWI attorney on your side.
For many years, our team at The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford has been defending individuals who have made a mistake, been wrongly accused, or feel stuck in an impossible situation. We are here to provide judgment-free, reliable legal counsel that can help you overcome this low point in your life. No one is perfect, and we approach every case with compassion and understanding.
Although we are patient with and approachable to our clients, we fight ruthlessly in the courtroom. Everyone deserves a fierce advocate in the legal system, regardless of what they have been accused of. We are passionate about providing that fierce advocacy for every one of our clients. You will receive helpful, reliable service from our team at The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford.
Our experience in this field gives us an advantage over the prosecution and can help you win your DWI defense case. No other area law firm has the same level of expertise as we do. We are your top resource for a DWI defense in North Carolina.
DUIs and DWIs are used interchangeably in North Carolina law. Both mean that an individual has been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To qualify for a DWI, the individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) must be .08% or higher. Many people have to consume several alcoholic beverages before they reach this level, but others have a lower tolerance. Regardless of your situation, if a police officer discovers that your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit, you can be arrested on DWI charges.
In most cases, the legal limit is .08%. However, commercial truck drivers with a blood alcohol content of .04% or higher can be charged with a DWI. Underage drivers, who are drivers under the age of 21, can be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol content is .01% or higher. This means that a minor can be charged with DWI if they have any alcohol in their system.
DUIs and DWIs also deal with operating a vehicle while on drugs. Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit for drug levels. If the police discover that you are under the influence of any illegal drugs whatsoever, you can be arrested for a DWI.
DWIs and DUIs have serious consequences. If you are convicted of one of these crimes, you can face:
Your only hope for avoiding these charges is to fight your case in court. The best way to do this is by hiring a North Carolina DWI attorney to represent you.
DWI cases are common, but fighting them is complicated. There are a limited number of defense arguments that hold up in court. It takes an experienced attorney to develop these arguments, and individuals who try to represent themselves almost always fail. The court takes these cases extremely seriously, and your defense must be very strong in order to avoid being convicted. An attorney is the best way to bring a convincing argument to court.
To reach an acquittal, it is essential that you obtain the best defense for your case. The most reliable way to do this is by hiring an experienced attorney from The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford.
North Carolina separates DWIs into levels or categories based on certain criteria, and punishments will be based on the level of offense that you have.
Level 5 DWIs are considered the least egregious and serious. A fine of $200 and a jail sentence between 24 hours and 60 days are possible. However, for a Level 5 offense, a judge may offer alternatives to jail, such as community service or the inability to operate a vehicle for 30 days.
Level 4 DWIs usually warrant a $500 fine and anywhere from 48 hours to 120 days in jail. A judge may offer 48 hours of community service or a 60-day suspension of driving privileges in place of a jail sentence.
A level 3 DWI triggers a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time between 72 hours and 6 months. A judge may offer 72 hours of community service or a 90-day driving suspension instead of jail.
A level 2 DWI is serious, and a judge cannot waive or suspend the minimum sentence. For these offenses, you can expect a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time between 7 days and 1 year.
Level 1 DWIs are the most serious and warrant a $4,000 fine and jail time between 30 days and 2 years. A judge cannot make any adjustments to the sentence.
Most of the above DWIs are considered misdemeanors, depending on the situation. However, a felony DWI may occur if the offender has had three other DWI offenses within the past 7 years. Felony DWI offenders can expect to spend at least 1 year in jail or prison.
DWI sentences can increase in severity if there are factors that make the situation more dangerous or offensive. Standard aggravating factors include:
There are also “gross aggravating factors” that are especially serious and cause even more punishment. Gross aggravating factors include:
These numerous factors mean that DWI sentencing is not always based on a set formula. Rather, the judge will assign a punishment based on the unique situation and the amount of harm that has been done.
Many people have a difficult time understanding how to defend against a DWI charge in court. After all, most DWI arrests are based on solid evidence or field sobriety tests. What many people do not know is that field sobriety tests, even breathalyzers, are often faulty. It is entirely possible for an individual to be wrongly arrested for a DWI after submitting to a field sobriety or breathalyzer test. Faulty tests are a main defense argument for DWI charges.
Other potential defense arguments include:
Your attorney will create your DWI defense case based on your unique situation and the factors of your case.
Many people think that they can avoid a DWI charge if they do not submit to field sobriety or breathalyzer tests. It is important to know that this is untrue. When you get your license, you agree to submit to these tests if a police officer asks you to under reasonable circumstances. If you do not, the evidence will be used against you, and you will still be punished.
DWIs do not directly prevent you from becoming an attorney if that is your goal. However, aggravating factors and repeat offenses can result in felony charges. You may not be able to practice law with a felony record, so if becoming an attorney is your goal, it is important to follow the law. Potential employers may also be able to see misdemeanor DWIs on your record, so any charges could hinder your chance of being employed.
All DWI lawyers charge differently for their services, so it is important to discuss finances with potential attorneys before you begin to build your case. Most attorneys in this field charge hourly, but the rates range based on experience and track record. Discussing finances before hiring an attorney means that you will not lose representation during your case, which can hurt your chances of winning.
A lawyer is not required by law in Dallas, North Carolina, but it is extremely important to have one. Without an attorney, you are unlikely to win your case and can face serious consequences. Some consequences are lifelong and can alter the course of your future and that of your family. Although some court cases can be won without a lawyer, DWI cases are difficult, and you are unlikely to win without legal representation.
Yes. When you get your license, you agree that you will follow the law and that you will submit to field sobriety and breathalyzer tests if a police officer requests them under reasonable circumstances. Any traffic stop is considered reasonable circumstances. Failing to comply with a reasonable request could result in additional charges and will not help you avoid DWI charges.
Our firm has been working in the DWI defense field for many years. We understand the serious consequences that come with these charges as well as the defenses and tactics that work best. We are your best option for winning your DWI defense case in North Carolina. No matter the circumstances, we are here to help.
If you are ready to learn more, or if you have questions about our firm, please contact The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford today.