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Oak Island DUI Lawyer

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Oak Island DUI & DWI Defense Attorney

Drunk driving is a serious offense that can result in significant harm to others. As a result, the law treats the issue particularly seriously and aggressively penalizes those who commit an offense. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you might feel a bit hopeless. There’s no sympathy for drunk drivers, and it can feel like you’re guaranteed to be found guilty because of that vitriol.

You don’t need to feel that way. There is hope for those charged with a DWI. You have rights that must be observed, you have the opportunity for a defense, and you have the possibility of your case being dismissed and you being found “not guilty.” At Christina Rivenbark & Associates, we help our clients fight for that outcome. We seek to ensure that their rights are protected, and we defend them vigorously in court. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Oak Island, we’re the team you need on your side.

Oak Island DUI Lawyer


DWI laws are meant to make roads safer by keeping those who are impaired by a substance, and thus unable to drive sufficiently well, off the roads. The law provides a set of criteria by which a driver can be considered impaired. In most cases, though not all, this will be determined based on the driver’s blood alcohol content, or BAC. This number is determined by a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer. North Carolina drivers are required to take a breathalyzer test, or any other chemical test, when requested by a police officer. This is because North Carolina is an implied consent state, meaning that by driving on the roads, you have implicitly agreed to these tests when requested. Refusal results in an automatic one-year license suspension. The criteria by which you can be charged with a DWI are:

  • A BAC above 0.08%
  • A BAC above 0.04% when operating a commercial vehicle
  • Any BAC over 0% for drivers under the age of 21
  • Any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in urine or blood
  • Being clearly impaired, regardless of the outcome of any test

DUI/DWI Sentencing

Sentencing for a DWI is determined based on a variety of factors. After the question of guilt is determined, there will be a hearing to determine sentencing, at which the prosecutor and defendant will present evidence for either aggravating factors or mitigating factors. Some of the kinds of things that will be considered include:

  • Mitigating Factors – Evidence of safe driving at the time of being pulled over, evidence of a low BAC, or being able to show that a prescription drug was the cause of the impairment may reduce the potential sentence. A sentence could also be lessened by a driver submitting to 60 days of sobriety monitoring, treatment, or a mental health screening.
  • Aggravating Factors – A variety of factors can increase the likely penalty received, including having a BAC of 0.15% or higher, speeding at least 30 mph over the speed limit, passing a stopped school bus, reckless driving, having two prior traffic violations and three or more demerit points, or eluding the police.
  • Gross Aggravating Factors – Some factors seriously impact sentencing, such as driving with a minor passenger or driving with a license that is already revoked for a DWI.

Based on all the relevant factors, a judge will determine if the sentencing should belong in one of six categories. They are:

  • Level 5 – A fine of up to $200 and 1-60 days in jail
  • Level 4 – A fine of up to $500 and 2-120 days in jail
  • Level 3 – A fine of up to $1000 and three days to six months in jail
  • Level 2 – A fine of up to $2000 and seven days to one year in jail; the minimum jail term may be avoided if the driver submits to at least 90 days of monitored sobriety
  • Level 1 – A fine of up to $4000 and 30 days to two years in jail
  • Aggravated Level 1 – A fine of up to $10,000 and one to three years in jail

DWI convictions also come with a couple of other penalties as well. One of these is having the driver’s license revoked. The second is that the driver will have to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for a period of time. The device will not allow the driver to start the vehicle if the results of a breath test aren’t satisfactory. The terms of these penalties depend on the number of offenses that the driver has committed:

  • 1st Offense – IID for 1 year after 1 year of license revocation (can be reinstated early by submission to alcohol monitoring)
  • 2nd Offense – IID for 3 years after 4 years of license revocation (can be reduced to two by submission to alcohol monitoring)
  • 3rd Offense – IID for 7 years after a permanent license revocation (can be reduced to three by submission to alcohol monitoring and down to two if the driver has completed 12 months of sobriety)

FAQs About Oak Island, NC DUI Laws

How Can a Lawyer Help With a DUI or DWI Case in Oak Island, NC?

Many people take a highly pessimistic attitude toward DUI charges. They have an expectation that a positive test guarantees a conviction. That’s not at all the case. There are several ways of arguing against a DUI charge. A skilled, experienced lawyer can help you understand the scope of your case and the means of defending against the claims. It may be that there was some kind of issue with how the officer handled the situation, which could see the case dismissed. There may also be the possibility of creating reasonable doubts about the validity of the testing methods that are used.

A talented lawyer may be able to use any of these as a potential defense for you. A lawyer can investigate all aspects of your case and look for the strongest arguments in your defense. They can also be helpful if you happen to lose your case and need help in reducing the sentence. Your attorney can argue for a lighter sentence based on mitigating circumstances.

What Counts as a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?

Most DWI charges will be determined on the basis of a failed test, like a breathalyzer. These tests determine blood alcohol content (BAC). A BAC of 0.08% or higher is going to result in a DWI charge in every case. If the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, that threshold will drop to a BAC of 0.04%. In cases involving someone under the age of 21, any BAC that is above 0% will result in a DWI charge.

A DWI can also result from any amount of a Schedule 1 substance appearing in a driver’s blood or urine. Additionally, if a driver’s ability is impaired by any substance, then they could also be charged, regardless of any test results.

Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer DWI Test in Oak Island, NC?

In North Carolina, you must take a breathalyzer or other chemical test if an officer tells you to. This is because North Carolina is what is known as an implied consent state. What that means is that, by choosing to drive on a North Carolina road, drivers have given implied consent to take chemical tests if an officer pulls them over and administers the test. If you were to refuse a test, there would be an automatic revocation of your driving privileges for a year. This revocation stays in place whether you win your DWI case or not. However, after six months, the driver may be able to receive limited driving privileges.

What Should I Look for in a DUI/DWI Lawyer in Oak Island, NC?

Working with the right Oak Island DUI/DWI lawyer can be essential to giving your case its strongest chance at success. The most important thing when looking for a lawyer is that you find someone who you trust and are comfortable with. You are putting a lot of trust in a lawyer when you hire them to defend you and represent your case. It’s critical that you have someone that you are confident in when allowing them to take on that role.

Additionally, it can be important to find someone with knowledge and experience in the kind of case that you have. A lawyer with that full understanding of the situation will be better able to craft a defense for you and advise you as to what you face. It can also be helpful to have a lawyer who pays close attention to details, as those little details can also make a tremendous difference in a case.

At Christina Rivenbark & Associates, we believe that we have those characteristics and are ready to defend your case. We believe that, like everyone else, those charged with a DWI case deserve to have their Constitutional rights protected in and out of court.

Get Help When Defending Against DUI/DWI Charges in Oak Island, NC

Being charged with a DWI has serious consequences. It’s easy, too, to feel like everything is against you in a DWI case. At Christina Rivenbark & Associates, we can help defend your case and represent you in court. With our help, you can be sure that you have a formidable defense. Given the consequences, it’s important that you take a DWI charge seriously, and we can help put forth a serious defense.

Many DWI cases have been won by defendants, so there’s no reason to give up hope if you’ve been charged with a DWI. Contact us today so we can review your case with you.


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Our Locations Leland And Wilmington

4009 Oleander Drive Wilmington, NC 28403

110 Old Fayetteville Road Leland, NC 28451