If you are charged with Driving While Impaired, you need effective and experienced representation from a Monroe, NC criminal defense lawyer. Driving While Impaired will usually cause an initial thirty-day civil revocation. You may be eligible for a pre-trial privilege after the initial ten days of the revocation. Once the thirty days have elapsed, you may be eligible to get your license back by going to the clerk’s office and paying a reinstatement fee. You are eligible to drive unless or until you are convicted of driving while impaired. However, if you refused a chemical test, your license to drive will be revoked even if you are not convicted of the charge and you have a limited period to challenge the revocation once notice is sent to you. The mailing address on your license must be your actual mailing address because the NC Department of Motor Vehicles will send notices to the address on your license. It does not matter if you receive the notice or not. The statute is written in a way that only matters that the notice was sent.
- Every judge takes driving while impaired seriously and the statutes of North Carolina set out the punishment in great detail. There are different levels for sentencing, which can range from 24 hours of a community of service (at a minimum) to 2 years in prison.
- It is important to know if you have had a prior conviction or suspension due to an alcohol-related incident. This factor along with several others will greatly increase your punishment.
Driving While Impaired in Monroe, NC
We frequently assist clients with effective defenses in DWI cases in Monroe, NC. The offense of driving while impaired, or driving while intoxicated (DWI), is taken extremely seriously in Monroe. Even with a first offense, you can face substantial penalties upon conviction. Under North Carolina law , a person commits the offense of impaired driving if they drive any vehicle on a highway or public place within Monroe, North Carolina while under any of the following conditions:
- While under the influence of an impairing substance
- After having consumed sufficient alcohol that has resulted in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more
- With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance (or its metabolites) in their blood or urine
Without the help of a Monroe, NC DWI defense lawyer, you could face serious penalties upon conviction of a DUI. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety explains that there are five separate levels of driving while intoxicated in the state, and each is a misdemeanor offense.
Those penalty levels include the following:
- Level V: This is the least serious level of a misdemeanor DUI, and it is punishable with a fine of up to $200, a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, and a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. It is within the judge’s discretion for a Level V offense to suspend the sentence based on the specific facts of the case, provided that the defendant spends 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service, or agrees not to operate a motor vehicle for at least 30 days.
- Level IV: This level of DWI is the second least serious and is punishable with a fine of up to $500, a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours, and a maximum jail sentence of 120 days. Like a Level V offense, a judge can suspend the sentence provided that other actions are completed by the defendant.
- Level III: This level of DUI is punishable with a fine of up to $1,000, a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours, and a maximum jail sentence of six months. Like Level V and IV offenses, it is within the judge’s discretion to suspend the sentence provided that other conditions are met.
- Level II: This level of DUI is the second-most serious and is punishable with a fine of up to $2,000, a minimum jail sentence of seven days, and a maximum jail sentence of one year. Once a person is charged with a Level II DWI, it is not within the judge’s discretion to suspend the minimum sentence.
- Level I: This is the most serious DWI level and is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, a minimum jail sentence of 30 days, and a maximum jail sentence of two years. It is not within the judge’s discretion to suspend the minimum sentence.
Both Level II and Level I offenders are repeat offenders. Once a person has three prior DUIs and is charged again, the offense becomes a felony DUI with a minimum jail term of at least one year.
If you are convicted of a DWI in Monroe, NC, you must undergo a substance abuse assessment in addition to completing either an education program or a treatment program, as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) clarifies.
An Overview of the Substances that Can Lead to a DWI
You can be charged with a DWI in North Carolina if you were operating a motor vehicle while unlawfully impaired. Substances that can result in a DWI charge in North Carolina include:
- Prescription drugs
- Illegal narcotics
How to Defend Against DWI Charges in Union County, NC
There are a number of different legal strategies that can be used to challenge a DUI charge in North Carolina. Your defense should always start with a review of the arrest and the process. If your rights were violated—such as if the stop was illegal—certain evidence may be inadmissible. You can also challenge the reliability of evidence presented by police and prosecutors—including officer observations and the results of blood tests or breath tests. Finally, in some cases, the best way to defend a DWI charge is to focus on reducing penalties and limiting the long-term consequences associated with the offense. DWI arrests in North Carolina should always be defended on a case-by-case basis. Personalized representation is a must.
What Should I Do If I’m Stopped on Suspicion of a DWI in North Carolina?
If you are stopped on suspicion of intoxicated driving in North Carolina, it is imperative that you know how to protect your rights. Here are four key things that drivers should do if they are stopped on a suspicion of a DWI in North Carolina:
- Safely Stop Your Vehicle: If you see those flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror, you need to bring your car to a stop as soon as it is safely possible to do so. Remain calm and remain in your vehicle. Put your hands on the steering wheel.
- Be Polite and Hand Over Your Documents: Always be polite at any traffic stop. Do not try to argue with the officer. Simply hand over your documents—such as license and vehicle registration—when requested.
- Know Your Rights: You have rights. First, you have the right to remain silent. You are not required to answer any questions from the officer. Second, you have the right to decline a field sobriety test. You also have the right to decline a field breath test and to instead take the test at the police station. If you refuse to take a breath test in the field AND at the police station, your license could be suspended for a year regardless of whether you are convicted of DWI.
- Consult With a Monroe, NC DWI Defense Lawyer: You do not have to navigate the criminal justice process alone. If you were arrested for suspected drunk driving or impaired driving, you need a lawyer. Consult with a top Monroe, NC DWI defense attorney right away.
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
The term field sobriety test refers to a group of three different non-chemical tests that police officers use to assess if a driver is unlawfully impaired. These tests are of questionable validity. In fact, a decades-old study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has long pointed out that there are accuracy issues with field sobriety tests. You are not required to perform a field sobriety test in North Carolina. That you declined to do so cannot be held against you in court.
What Is Considered A Habitual DWI/DUI Charge?
If someone has been convicted of three DUI charges already and gets a fourth within the last ten years, this would be considered a habitual DUI. Habitual DUI’s can lead to serious felonies, jail-time, fines, and permanent driving suspensions in the state of North Carolina. This is why hiring a DWI attorney during this stage is crucial, because having an experienced DUI attorney will make sure that you don’t have to face these criminal challenges by yourself.
Can The State Take My Car After A DWI/DUI?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, the police and state can impound your vehicle for 30 days, especially if this is a repeat DUI offense. However, with the help of an experienced DUI attorney, we can help you get your vehicle back to you, especially if this is a first-time offense.
Get Help With Your DWI Arrest In Monroe, NC
North Carolina currently uses the EC-IR-II, which replaced the Intoxilyzer 5000. Many people still refer to the machine that performs the test as the intoxilyzer. Some people refer to it as the Breathalyzer. It is the machine you blow into once you have been advised of certain statutory rights. It is usually at the jail or sheriff’s office but they can be mobile at certain checkpoints. It is not the handheld device that you blow into on the side of the road. The hand-held device is the alcosensor, which is used to determine probable cause for the arrest, and the specific results are not usually admitted into evidence in North Carolina. If the reported results of the EC-IR-II or blood results are .15 or higher and you are convicted, you will have to have an interlock device placed on your vehicle to drive under a limited driving privilege if you are convicted and qualify to receive a limited driving privilege. Currently, the only vendor for the interlock device is Monitech.
Meet the Attorneys
All of our attorneys are involved in Union County schools, churches and community activities.
Richard G. Long, Jr. Partner
Dale Ann Plyler Partner
Frank Corigliano Partner
Lisa Hough Beaman Associate Attorney
Lisanne Mangum Associate Attorney
Ashley McBride Of Counsel
With over 140 years of combined legal experience, you can trust your case with us.
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