Under North Carolina law, drunk driving is officially known as driving while impaired (DWI) — though some may call it DUI. If a breath, blood, or other test indicates you operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher, you will be charged with DWI. The same charge applies to driving while impaired by marijuana, other illegal drugs or prescription drugs.
In recent years, laws intended to reduce drunk driving have become increasingly strict, and harsh DWI sentences come as a shock to many people. Law enforcement and prosecution techniques have also become more aggressive. We believe strongly that anyone charged with drunk driving should have experienced defense counsel.
It’s vital to take full advantage of your constitutional rights after any arrest in North Carolina. Primarily, you have the right to remain silent, which can prevent unintended self-incrimination. It’s always best to say nothing after an arrest until you have legal counsel on your side. This is your second critical constitutional right that comes into play after an arrest: the right to legal counsel.
Every American has the right to legal counsel after an arrest in the U.S., even if they cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney or do not wish to pay for one out of pocket. A public defender is available free of charge if you cannot pay for an attorney or don’t wish to pay for one, but it’s vital to consider the potential value an experienced private defense lawyer can provide in your situation. While most public defenders are hardworking attorneys, the nature of their job requires them to manage several cases at once, and they typically can’t provide much in the way of personalized legal representation to any given case.
An experienced private Wilmington DUI defense lawyer can help you determine the best available defenses in your case. They will carefully review the circumstances of your arrest and booking, help you ensure the police followed all laws of due process while handling your arrest and booking, and assist you in determining your most viable defense options. Do not attempt to handle this challenging situation on your own.
North Carolina uses a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement system to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. The legal BAC limit for most drivers is .08%. Anything higher than this, even .81%, can result in a DUI charge. However, the legal limit for commercial drivers and drivers with previous DUI convictions is .04%. In addition, there is a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 who are not old enough to buy or consume alcohol, and any detectable BAC amount can potentially result in a DUI charge.
When it comes to certain drugs, testing for intoxication becomes more difficult. For example, marijuana metabolizes in the human body slowly, sometimes remaining detectable in a drug test for up to 28 days after consumption. However, the inebriating effects of marijuana only last for a few hours in most cases. This means someone can test positive for marijuana after a traffic stop even though they haven’t consumed cannabis in days. Whenever there are discrepancies concerning the validity of a drug test, the driver must secure legal counsel as soon as possible.
A DWI arrest can happen to almost anyone who drinks, and most people we help — including students and visitors to our area, working people and high-level professionals — acknowledge their mistake. If the evidence against you is strong and police followed all procedures correctly, our drunk driving defense lawyers can still make a difference.
We investigate each case thoroughly, rather than looking to simply “plead you out.” We are able to fight some DWI charges and win acquittals or dismissals by:
Many procedural issues might arise in a DUI case, and a defendant could have more options for defense than they may initially realize. Hiring an experienced Wilmington DUI defense attorney is the best option for handling these complex cases.
The penalties for DUI in North Carolina can include fines, jail time, and suspension of driving privileges. Some defendants will need to attend mandatory DUI school and/or substance abuse treatment programs. If there are aggravating factors in a case, the defendant is likely to face harsher penalties or even additional charges. For example, if a DUI driver hit and injured someone else, they would be liable for the victim’s civil damages and restitution. If they killed someone, they would be liable for wrongful death in addition to criminal penalties for vehicular manslaughter.
It’s important to remember that a DUI remains on your record for seven years in North Carolina. If you have a second DUI within these seven years, you will face harsher penalties for the second offense. Whether you face your first DUI or have a record of past convictions within seven years, you need defense counsel you can trust to help you minimize your penalty.
A: Determine how much experience the attorney has with cases like yours. Ask them about their defense strategy and how they intend to handle your case. You should also ask them if they notice anything unique about your situation and how much time they intend to spend working on your defense.
A: Driver’s license suspension is a standard penalty for DUI in North Carolina, especially for repeat offenders. However, some convicted DUI drivers can qualify for restricted driver’s licenses. For example, if you need to drive for work, the court may be willing to reduce your suspension and provide a restricted driver’s license that will allow you to drive to and from work and other essential tasks.
A: Most criminal defense attorneys in North Carolina charge their clients by the hour. The more time the attorney spends working on a client’s case, the more expensive the client’s legal fees will be. However, some defense attorneys will offer flat-fee billing for specific legal services. Before agreeing to an attorney’s representation, make sure you fully understand their billing policy.
A: “DUI” defines driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol in every state. Doing so is extremely dangerous to the impaired driver and everyone else around them. In addition, accidents that occur because of DUI often lead to severe injuries and fatalities, and the drivers responsible for these accidents face severe criminal penalties.
Leveraging more than 30 years of experience in the courts of New Hanover, Columbus, Brunswick, Pender, Duplin, Sampson, Johnston and Wake counties, we negotiate skillfully for sentences our clients can live with, often eliminating jail time, reducing the impact of a driver’s license revocation, saving a commercial driver’s license, or achieving other critical goals.
At Christina Rivenbark & Associates, our DWI defense attorneys are ready to protect your rights and future. We are non-judgmental and constructive, always looking for ways to get you through a tough situation in the best shape possible.