DWI lawyer James Minick

DWI lawyer James Minick

The following is a collection of frequently asked questions that many of our clients asked regarding a Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge. Although this is a large list, it is be no means a definitive list of all questions regarding a DWI charge. If you have been charged with a DWI, don’t hesitate to Contact Us for a free consultation on your DWI charge.

What is Driving While Impaired (DWI)?

Driving While Impaired (DWI) is the formal name for the charge of driving a motor vehicle while drunk. It can sometimes be referred to as Driving Under the Influence (DUI), but in North Carolina, the official charge is a DWI.

In order to be charged with DWI, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-138.1, a person must be caught:

Operating a motor vehicle on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above.

OR

Operating a motor vehicle while alcohol, drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol impair your mental and/or physical abilities, even though your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) does NOT rise to 0.08%.

OR

Operating a commercial motor vehicle on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or above.

I’ve been charged with a DWI, do I need a lawyer?

If you have been charged with a DWI, you should hire an attorney. A DWI charge is a serious offense that does not have an easy solution. Hiring a good attorney can make the difference between a bad resolution or a possible dismissal. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your DWI charge

What are the various sentencing levels for a DWI in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there are six levels of punishment for a DWI. They rank in descending order of seriousness from Level 5 (most lenient) to Aggravated Level 1 (most serious). These levels are determined during a sentencing hearing following our trial.

Level 5 DWI

Level 5 DWI is the most lenient DWI level. To find a Level 5 DWI, a judge must find that there were no grossly aggravating factors and that the mitigating factors substantially outweigh the aggravating factors. A defendant subject to Level Five punishment may be fined up to $200 and may be sentenced to a maximum term of not more than 60 days. The term of imprisonment may be suspended, but shall include the condition that the defendant:

  1. Be imprisoned for a term of 24 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of 24 hours; or

If the defendant is placed on probation, the defendant must obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment required for the restoration of a driver’s license.

Level 4 DWI

Level 4 DWI is more severe than Level 5. To find a Level 4 DWI, a judge must find that there were no grossly aggravating factors and that the mitigating factors were balanced by aggravating factors. A defendant subject to Level Four punishment may be fined up to $500 and may be sentenced to a maximum term of not more than 120 days. The term of imprisonment may be suspended, but shall require that the defendant:

  1. Be imprisoned for a term of 48 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of 48 hours; or

If the defendant is placed on probation, the defendant must obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment required for the restoration of a driver’s license.

Level 3 DWI

Level 3 DWI is more severe than a Level 4 DWI. To find a Level 3 DWI, a judge must find that there were no grossly aggravating factors and that the aggravating factors substantially outweigh mitigating factors. A defendant subject to Level Three punishment may be fined up to $1,000 and may be sentenced to a maximum term of not more than six months. The term of imprisonment may be suspended, but shall require that the defendant:

  1. Be imprisoned for a term of at least 72 hours as a condition of special probation; or
  2. Perform community service for a term of at least 72 hours; or

If the defendant is placed on probation, the defendant must obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment required for the restoration of a driver’s license.

Level 2 DWI

Level 2 DWI is more severe than Level 3. To find a Level 2 DWI, the Judge must find that there was one grossly aggravating factor. The Judge does not weigh aggravating and mitigating factors, except if they affect how much of a punishment he will give under the Level 2 punishment guidelines. A defendant subject to Level Two punishment may be fined up to $2,000 and may be sentenced to a maximum term of not more than 12 months. The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if it requires the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least seven days or to abstain from consuming alcohol for at least 90 consecutive days. If the defendant is placed on probation, the defendant must obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment for the restoration of a driver’s license.

The judge may impose, as a condition of probation for defendants subject to Level One or Level Two punishments, that the defendant abstain from alcohol consumption for a minimum of 30 days, to a maximum of the term of probation, as verified by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.

Level 1 DWI

Level 1 DWI is more severe than Level 2. To find a Level 1 DWI, the Judge must find that there was a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle or that there were two grossly aggravating factors. A defendant subject to Level One punishment may be fined up to $4,000 and may be sentenced to a maximum term of not more than 24 months. The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if it requires the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 30 days. A judge may reduce the minimum term of imprisonment required to no less then 10 days if the defendant abstains from alcohol consumption and is monitored by a continuous alcohol monitoring system for no less than 120 days. The defendant must obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment for the restoration of a driver’s license.

Aggravated Level 1 DWI

Aggravated Level 1 DWI is the most severe misdemeanor DWI level. If a Judge finds three or more grossly aggravating factors, the Judge will sentence the driver to an Aggravated Level 1 punishment. A defendant subject to Aggravated Level One punishment may be fined up to $10,000 and may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 36 months. Probation may be granted only if it requires the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 120 days. If probation is granted, the defendant must abstain from drinking alcohol for a minimum of 120 days while undergoing continuous alcohol monitoring and obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment required for restoration of a driver’s license.

What are the statutory factors for a DWI?

In North Carolina, in order to determine the DWI level an individual is to be punished at, the court must consider three types of statutory factors: aggravating, mitigating, and grossly aggravating.

Grossly Aggravating Factors

  • Prior DWI conviction within 7 years of the date of the current DWI offense
  • An intervening DWI conviction
  • Offense committed while defendant’s license was revoked for a prior DWI
  • Offense resulted in serious injury to another
  • A child under the age of 18 was in the vehicle

Aggravating Factors

  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.15% or higher
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that leads to a reportable accident
  • Driving with a revoked license
  • Poor driving history
  • Two or more prior convictions of a motor vehicle offense (not involving impaired driving) of which 3 points were assigned
  • Speeding at least 30 mph over the speed limit
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Any other aggravating factor that increases the seriousness of the crime

Mitigating Factors

  • Slight impairment – a Blood Alcohol Concentration at or less than 0.09%
  • Driving that is considered safe (besides the impairment) at the time of impairment
  • Safe driving record
  • Impairment was due to a lawfully prescribed drug
  • Voluntary submission to a mental health facility for an assessment
  • Completion of a substance abuse assessment and 60 days of monitored abstinence from alcohol

Will getting a DWI effect my employment?

This is a hard question to answer since every situation is different. As a fact, a DWI or any other arrest is public record in North Carolina. It will remain a public record unless you get it expunged. As such, anyone who wants to can look and see who has been arrested or received a DWI. Since North Carolina is a Right to Work State, employers can fire their employees for any reason, as long as it is non-discriminatory, like being arrested.

For the most part, people aren’t typically fired over a DWI. However, if you are fired, you may not have any legal remedy at your disposal. How you choose to handle a DWI or arrest is up to you. In some situations, it may be smart to just address the problem and inform your employer about the situation. However you choose to do this, be sure to take responsibility and show that you are working on resolving the situation.

In some instances, your occupation may require you to report a DWI or arrest. This is the situation for certain professionals like lawyers or medical professionals due to requiring a license in order to practice. If you have a job that requires disclosure, it is in your best interest to report the situation as quickly as possible to avoid facing any severe consequences.

I was never read my Miranda rights, does that mean my case will be dismissed?

No. Although you may not have been read your Miranda rights, this does not mean that your DWI case will be dismissed. However, what it does mean is that anything that you said between the time of your arrest and the eventual reading of your Miranda rights will be inadmissible at trial.

Do I have the right to speak to an attorney before providing a blood or urine sample?

Yes. In North Carolina, an individual who is being compelled to implied consent testing has the right to consult with an attorney before being tested. This right however does not allow a delay in testing. Once an individual has been notified that they have the right to speak to an attorney, the individual has 30 minutes to find and contact an attorney. However, once that 30 minutes is up, the driver will be tested. The reason behind this policy is that the longer the delay, the less accurate the test will be in determining impairment.

Can I be arrested for a DWI even though the vehicle was not moving and in park?

Yes, a person can be arrested for a DWI in a non-moving vehicle that is in park. Under North Carolina law, a person can be charged for a DWI as long as a vehicle is under their control. This means that regardless of whether the car was moving or not, the person could still be considered in control of the vehicle if they were in the driver’s seat with the motor on.

Can I get a DWI on a bike?

Yes, an individual can receive a DWI while riding a bike. Under the DWI statute, one the elements only states that a person must have been “driving a vehicle.” Under NC law, a bike is considered a vehicle for DWI purposes.

I refused to take a chemical analysis test and lost my licenses for a year, is there anything I can do to get it back sooner or get a limited driving privilege?

Typically, there is nothing you can to get your license back sooner. Since you were deemed to have given your implied consent when obtaining your driver’s licenses, you are subject to the punishment that comes along with refusal, a one-year revocation of your license. You can make a written request with the DMV for a hearing to appeal your revocation. If your suspension is upheld, you can request a hearing in Superior Court within 30 days of the DMV hearing. Under these circumstances, you may be able to get a limited driving privilege after six months of your one-year suspension. To be eligible for this, you must:

  • Have no DWIs within seven prior years;
  • Not refused a chemical analysis within seven prior years;
  • The DWI must not have involved death or serious injury;
  • Not been charged or convicted of an implied consent offense after the current refusal;
  • Obtained a substance abuse assessment from a drug and alcohol counseling center and completed the treatment; and
  • The DWI of which the refusal stemmed from must have been disposed of either by no conviction or a Level 3, 4, or 5 DWI conviction of which you have complied of the conditions of probation.

See more about the ramifications of refusing a chemical analysis test in North Carolina…

What is the legal limit in North Carolina?

The legal limit in North Carolina is a Blood Alcohol Concentration of under 0.08%. This is the legal limit throughout most of the country.

What is the legal limit in North Carolina for a commercial license?

The legal limit in North Carolina for a commercial license is a Blood Alcohol Concentration of under 0.04%. This is the legal limit throughout most of the country for a commercial license.

What is the legal limit in North Carolina for somebody under 21?

In North Carolina, there is a strict no tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. As a result, an individual who is under 21 cannot have a Blood Alcohol Concentration greater then 0.00%.

If I’m over the legal limit, am I automatically guilty?

No, you are not automatically guilty. As with any other charge, in order to be guilty, the prosecutor must show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be done by proving each element of a charge. Although this may be easier if the prosecutor has evidence that you were above the legal limit, that does not mean that your case can not be defended.  If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina and were over the legal limit, is it in your best interest to hire an attorney.

If I blow under the legal limit, can they still arrest me?

Although the answer to this question seems like it should be a resounding no, that is not the case. In North Carolina, an individual can still be charged with a DWI, even though they were below the legal limit. This occurs where a police officer has observed an individual driving in a manner the indicates they are impaired. This means that even though they weren’t legally drunk, they were not capable of maintaining their physical and mental capacities enough to drive in a normal manner. Since this type of arrest relies on the subjective opinion of the arresting officer, there exists a better chance of fighting this charge. If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina and were under the legal limit, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney.

What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the following are some of the symptoms that research has revealed to be indicators of driving while impaired:

  • Turning with a wide radius;
  • Straddling the center of the lane marker;
  • Appearing to be drunk;
  • Almost striking an object or vehicle;
  • Weaving;
  • Driving on anything other than the designated highway;
  • Swerving;
  • Speed more than 10 miles per hour below the speed limit;
  • Stopping without cause in the traffic lane;
  • Following too closely;
  • Drifting;
  • Tire on center or lane marker;
  • Braking erratically;
  • Driving into opposing or crossing traffic;
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving actions;
  • Slow response to traffic signals;
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane);
  • Turning abruptly or illegally;
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly;
  • Headlights off;

Interestingly, speeding is not generally considered to be a sign of driving while impaired.

What if I was stopped for another traffic infraction, but got charged with a DWI?

As long as the reason for pulling you over is legitimate, it does not matter if you get charged for Driving While Impaired (DUI) consequently to another traffic violation. Courts have consistently held that routine traffic stops establish probable cause for charging an individual with a DUI.

What is the officer looking for when he is interacting with me?

When a police officer pulls you over, he has already observed your driving behaviors and is now looking to see what your physical and mental state are when interacting with the officer. Police officers have been taught in their training to look for the following symptoms of impairment:

  • A flushed face;
  • Red, watery, glassy, and/or bloodshot eyes;
  • Odor of alcohol on breath;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Fumbling with a wallet trying to get a license;
  • Failure to comprehend the officer’s questions;
  • Staggering when exiting the vehicle;
  • Swaying/instability on your feet;
  • Leaning on your car for support;
  • Combative, argumentative, jovial, or other inappropriate attitude;
  • Soiled, rumpled, or disorderly clothing;
  • Stumbling while walking;
  • Disorientation as to time and place;
  • Inability to follow directions;

What are some of the devices and tests use to determine impairment?

Do I have to answer the police officer if he asks me if I have been drinking?

Although it is always smart to be cooperative when interacting with law enforcement personnel, you should not give out any incriminating information willingly. If you believe that you may be incriminating yourself by answering the question, you have two choices of answers to respond with. You can ask the officer “Am I being detained?” or state “I would like to speak with an attorney.”  Although these answers are within your rights, you should be aware that a police officer may not respond well to these answers and could become more difficult then if you had responded in a more cooperative manner.

What tests can the police officer make me undergo?

If you have been stopped by a police officer for suspicion of Driving While Impaired (DWI), you may be asked to undergo two types of tests: field sobriety tests and chemical analysis tests.

Field sobriety tests are tests that an officer can ask you to perform that display how well you have control of your physical and mental capacities. The more of these tests that you fail, the higher the probability that you are impaired. Additionally, these tests can be used as evidence at trial to prove your impairment.

There are two types of FSTs: Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are:

  • The Walk-and-Turn Test;
  • The One-Leg-Stand Test;
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test;

The Non-Standardized Tests include:

  • The Finger Dexterity Test;
  • The Alphabet Test;
  • The Romberg Balance Test;

For these tests to be effective, police officers must strictly comply with the required procedures when performing the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  If your attorney can show that the officer did not strictly comply, doubt can be shown as to your alleged impairment, making it more difficult for the state to prove your guilt at trial.

Chemical analysis tests can be: blowing into a breathalyzer, having blood drawn, or providing a urine sample. In North Carolina, as a requirement of obtaining a driver’s license, you have given implied consent for these tests. This means that if you refuse to undergo any of the chemical analysis tests, you license can be immediately revoked for up to a year and you can face additional charges.

Can I refuse to take these tests?

Yes, you can refuse to take any of these tests.

For field sobriety tests, there are no legal consequences of refusing to undergo a test. However, choosing whether or not to take field sobriety tests can be a double-edged sword. By taking a field sobriety exam, you can show both the officer and the court evidence that you are sober. However, if you are not sober, taking theses tests may provide additional proof that you are impaired. As such, taking these tests may help or hinder your case by either providing proof of impairment or sobriety and you should weigh the negatives and positives in deciding.

However, for chemical analysis tests, there are legal repercussions for refusing. Since the courts have stated that you have given implied consent as a requirement of obtaining your driver’s license, if you refuse, you will face a revocation of your driver’s license and potentially face additional charges.

What evidence does the police officer need to arrest me for a DWI?

For a police officer to arrest an individual for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the officer must consider the following three types of evidence:

  1. Gross observations of behavior in general;
  2. Specific observation of behavior (field sobriety tests); and
  3. Chemical analysis tests in the form of breath, blood, or urine;

When considering these three forms of evidence, the officer must decide whether looking at the totality of the circumstances gives him enough probable or reasonable cause to arrest the individual. It is important to note that probable or reasonable cause is a much lower standard of proof then what will be required to show guilt in a trial, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Can I refuse a chemical analysis test?

In North Carolina, as a condition of getting a driver’s license, an individual has been considered to have given implied consent undergoing a chemical analysis test. Although implied consent has been given, you may still refuse to undergo a chemical analysis test. However, this refusal comes at a price: the immediate revocation of your driver’s license for a year and potentially extra charges, regardless of the outcome of your DWI charge.

What happens if I refuse a chemical analysis?

If you choose to refuse to undergo a chemical analysis, your drivers license is immediately revoked for one year by the Department of Motor Vehicles, regardless of the outcome of your DWI trial. Additionally, you may be faced with additional charges for refusing a chemical analysis test.

What are some defenses to use in a DWI case?

In general, an attorney can challenge your DWI charge by focusing on three different points of the DWI process: the stop, the arrest, and the trial.

In focusing on the stop, a police officer must be able to show that there was a reason to stop you. Without a legitimate reason, a police officer cannot stop you. If your attorney can prove there wasn’t a valid reason, your charges may be dismissed.

In focusing on the arrest, a police officer must show that there was probable cause ofr your arrest. If the officer cannot show that there is enough reliable information that exists to support a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime, there is no probable cause. Probable cause is established when looking at the totality of the circumstances: your driving, officer observations, and performance on field sobriety tests and chemical analysis test. Without probable cause, an arrest is invalid and therefore your charges will be dismissed.

Finally, in focusing on the trial, an attorney must show that there is no reason for you to be guilty of the charge. This can be done by negating any element of the claim by showing that you are not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubt standard is the highest legal standard in our legal system and therefore, the most difficult to prove.

Arguing the Elements

First and foremost, if you can negate any one of the elements of the DWI charge, you cannot be convicted of DWI. The elements of a DWI are:

  1. Driving;
  2. A vehicle;
  3. While under the influence of an impairing substance; OR
  4. With a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% or more;
  5. At any relevant time after the driving;

Chemical Analysis Tests

Although chemical analysis tests may be one of the prosecutor’s best tools in showing a person was Driving While Impaired (DWI), it can also be hard to defend. If challenged, the prosecution must show that the device has been properly maintained, the person using the device has been certified in using the device, and that the proper procedures for using the device have been used.

What are the punishments for a DWI?

It is hard to give an exact answer to this question since the punishment for Driving While Impaired (DWI) varies so much depending on the circumstances of each case. Generally, a first time offender will receive a suspended jail sentence, a fine, community service, court costs, a driver’s license suspension of one year, and required attendance at a DWI education course. A jail sentence is required if certain aggravating factors are present.

What are the aggravating factors that require jail time?

In North Carolina, the presence of certain aggravating factors necessitate a prison or jail sentence.

  • One or more convictions for DWI within seven years of the present offense;
  • Driving while license was revoked for a prior DWI;
  • Presence of a person under 16 years old at the time of the offense;
  • Serious injury to another person;

Additionally, if a death occurs during a DWI accident, a Manslaughter or Second Degree Murder charge can be added to the DWI charge.

Can my DWI charge be dismissed or reduced?

Not likely. Although some people may believe that they have a chance at getting their DWI charge dismissed or reduce due to a clean driving record or the fact that this is a first time offense, a District Attorney is not likely to drop a DWI charge due to the strict conditions North Carolina law imposes on dropping a DWI charge. In order to drop or reduce a DWI charge, the District Attorney would have to explain why there was a dismissal or reduction in open court and in writing. As such, most District Attorney’s will not even attempt to do so.

My DWI blood results have not come back and it has been more than a year, can I get my case dismissed?

Probably not. Although the 6th Amendment of the Constitution gives every American the right to a speedy trial, this may not be the situation in North Carolina. Due to budgetary restraints, blood work is taking an exceptionally long time to come back from the central testing facility in Raleigh resulting in especially long wait times in resolving DWI cases involving blood testing. Although this seems to be a violation of your Constitutional rights, most area judges will not deem this to be an appropriate reason for dismissing a case.

What is a Federal DWI?

A Federal DWI is a DWI that has occurred on Federal property like the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Park, or Military base. This charge is far different then a normal state issued DWI since it must be taken care of in the Federal court system and is subject to Federal sentencing structures and guidelines. If you have been charged with a Federal DWI, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in Federal charges.

Can I test positive for alcohol based off non-alcoholic foods or drinks?

Yes, certain foods or drinks may contain trace amounts of alcohol which could cause you to test positive for some alcohol. Although this will probably not be enough to charge you with a DWI, it can be especially problematic for individuals who may be on probation or have an Interlock system on their car. These are some of the foods or drinks that may contain traces amounts of alcohol:

  • Mouthwash
  • Honey buns
  • Hot sauces
  • Sugarless gums (alcohol is a sweetener)
  • Inhalers
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • Household cleaning products (bleach, dish washing soap, glue, laundry detergent, air fresheners)
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Energy drinks
  • Protein Bars
  • Vitamins
  • “Alcohol free” beer or wine
  • Foods cooked with or contained with alcohol
  • Hygiene products (deodorant sprays, after shave, perfume, body sprays, toothpaste, cosmetics, skin applicants, mouthwash, insect repellent)
  • Medicines (suppressants, decongestants, antihistamines, sleeping aids, etc.)
  • Ripe fruit
  • Fermented soda drinks
  • Chewing tobacco/dip (fruit flavors)
  • Over the counter/prescription drugs (consult pharmacist)

I got a DWI in NC but I have an out-of-state driver’s license, will my licensing state find out?

More then likely, yes. Although there is always the possibility that your arrest will fall through the beauracratic cracks, most states have agreements with other states to share information regarding arrests and driving records through a variety of services available to states.

If I’m convicted of a DWI, will my insurance rates jump?

After being charged with a DWI, a driver is considered to be dangerous and more likely to cause an accident. As such, insurances companies will raise their rates exponentially to cover their potential liability for your actions. A conviction for a DWI will add 12 points to your insurance record and cause, on average, a 400% increase of your insurance rates.

What are the open container laws in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, it is considered unlawful to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle, including while the vehicle is parked. Commercial vehicles are also not allowed to have closed alcohol containers at all. The legal definition of an open container is any alcoholic container of which the seal of the container is broken.

However, there are several exceptions to this law. As long as the driver or operator of the vehicle has not consumed any alcohol: alcoholic drinks (excluding hard liquor) are allowed in the passenger area if:

  1. The vehicle is designed, manufactured, and used primarily for compensated transportation (buses, taxis, etc.)
  2. The vehicle is a house trailer
  3. The passenger area is a motor home or home car

What should I do to prepare for my DWI court date?

Although you may be tempted to wait and see what happens on the court date for your DWI, it is better to be proactive and potentially mitigate your level of sentencing and punishment. Here are some of the things that may be beneficial to your case:

  1. Obtain an alcohol assessment
  2. Begin alcohol classes based off the assessment
  3. Perform community service at a local non-profit organization
  4. Attend AA meetings
  5. Begin a period of sobriety before your trial
  6. Obtain a letter from your insurance company stating all claims relating to the charge have been paid
  7. Take advantage of a free legal consultation

What are the consequences of being pulled over for a DWI with a child under the age of 18 in the car?

If you have been charged with a DWI and a child under the age of 18 was in the car, you are facing a more serious punishments upon conviction. Having a child under the age of 18 immediately bumps the charge up to a Level 1 punishment. This carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 2 years in jail and a fine of $4,000. This is punishment also applies if you have a person who has the mental facilities of a person under 18 or a passenger who is disabled and cannot leave the vehicle without assistance in the car.

What are the consequences of blowing a high Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?

Although an individual can be charged with a DWI for anything 0.08% or higher, if you blow at or above a 0.15%, you face more serious consequences. As a result of this higher BAC, you are subject to four things:

  1. A BAC at or above a 0.15% is considered an aggrevating factor for sentencing purposes
  2. A 45 day waiting period for obtaining a limited driving privilege
  3. Installation of the Ignition Interlock system for the purposes of a Limited Driving Privilege
  4. Mandatory alcohol assessment

Can the police use random DWI checkpoint in North Carolina?

Yes. Although the use of a random DWI checkpoint seems to be against our Constitutional rights and oddly similar to a brutal police state, the Supreme Court has said that the use of random DWI checkpoints is valid under the Constitution. Although this may be puzzling, the Supreme Court justified this by looking at the amount of crashes and fatalities that result from impaired driving. Since there is a substantial government interest in preventing and reducing these problems, the police were granted the power to set up random DWI checkpoints.

If my license is suspended, how am I supposed to get to work?

Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege. A limited driving privilege allows you to be able to drive to and from work, along with several other strict purposes. To get a limited driving privilege, you need to have not been convicted of a DWI within seven years of your arrest and have the following items:

  • Certified copy of your driving record
  • A DL-123 form from your insurance company
  • A substance abuse assessment from a drug and alcohol counseling center
  • A signed letter from your employer stating you are required to work outside standard hours of 6AM – 8PM Monday through Friday
  • $100 for the fee

Since a limited driving privilege is not easy to get, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney to attempt to obtain one.

What are the costs associated with a DWI?

This question is hard to answer since it depends on a variety of circumstances. These are the general costs typically associated with a DWI.

Driving Fees

Pre-trial Limited Driving Privilege

  • Time of payment: 10 days after charge
  • Cost: $100
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
  • Purposes: If your license is revoked for 30 days, the pre-trial limited driving privilege allows for limited purposes for the final 20 days of the civil revocation

30 Day Civil Restoration Fee

  • Time of Payment: Paid 30 Days After Charge
  • Cost: $100.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
  • Purpose: To Get License Back 30 Days After DWI Charge

Post-trial Limited Driving Privilege

  • Time of Payment: Either at Conviction or When Eligible
  • Cost: $100.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
  • Purpose: Allows driving for specific limited purposes during the period your license is revoked for the DWI conviction

Ignition Interlock System

  • Time of Payment: Upon Installation
  • Installation Cost: Approximately $75.00
  • Monthly Cost: Approximately $75.00
  • Payable to: Installation Company
  • Purpose: Driving may only be allowed with an interlock system

License Restoration Fees

  • Time of Payment: Upon Restoration of Driver’s License (Following Revocation for Refusal or DWI Conviction)
  • Cost: $50.00-$100.00
  • Payable to: NC DMV
  • Purpose: Restore Driver’s License

Court Fees

Fine & DWI Fee

  • Time of Payment: Sentencing Hearing
  • DWI Cost Allowed by Statute: Up to $10,000.00
  • Typical DWI Cost: $200.00 – $500.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Court Costs

  • Time of Payment: Sentencing Hearing
  • DWI Cost: $190.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Jail Fee

  • Time of Payment: Sentencing Hearing
  • Cost: $40.00 Per Day in Jail
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Community Service Fee

  • Time of Payment: Sentencing Hearing
  • DWI Cost: $250.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Lab Fees for Blood Cases

  • Time of Payment: Sentencing Hearing
  • DWI Cost: $600.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Supervised Probation Fees

  • Time of Payment: On Schedule Determined by Probation
  • Set-up Cost: $40.00
  • Monthly Fee: $40.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court

Alcohol Assessment and Treatment Fees

Assessment:

  • Time of Payment: At Assessment
  • Cost: $100.00
  • Payable to: Agency Performing Assessment

Treatment:

  • Time of Payment: Determined by Agency
  • Typical Cost: $160.00 – $800.00
  • Payable to: Agency Conducting Treatment

What is a 30-Day Civil Revocataion?

A 30-Day Civil Revocation is a civil punishment resulting from a DWI. Although typically a revocation of a license requires a conviction for a DWI, in North Carolina, a person can have their license revoked for the following reasons:

  • A person charged with an implied consent offense registers a 0.08% or higher on a chemical test
  • A driver of a commercial vehicle registers a 0.04% or higher on a chemical test
  • A person under the age of 21 registers a 0.01% or higher on a chemical test
  • A person charged with an implied consent offenses refuses to submit to an implied consent test

In what situations will I have to install an Interlock Ignition Device in my car?

An individual will have to install an Interlock Ignition Device in their car, regardless of what level they are sentenced to, if they register a 0.15% BAC or higher. The Interlock device will be installed in an individual’s vehicle for at least one year before the individual can obtain their license in North Carolina. The Interlock device must be installed prior to a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) being granted. For the purposes of LDP, an individual can only drive to and from work, not for any household purposes. An individual must also wait 45 days after their conviction to be eligible for the installation of an Interlock system.

How do I obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina?

In order to obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina, you must be able to fulfill the following ten steps:

  1. Meet all the eligibility requirements for obtaining a limited driving privilege
  2. Obtain a DL-123 form from your auto insurance company
  3. Obtain an alcohol assessment
  4. Prepare an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Privilege form
  5. Have an Ignition Interlock system installed on your vehicle
  6. Obtain a letter from your employer stating the hours you work
  7. Take the driving privilege and other documents to the Clerk of Court in the county where the implied consent offense was charged
  8. Pay $100 to the Clerk of Court’s office
  9. Take the signed copy of the privilege to a local DMV to be verified
  10. 10. Only drive within the parameters of the privilege

How do I get a Refusal Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina?

In order to obtain a Refusal Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina, you must be able to fulfill the following nine steps:

  1. Meet all the eligibility requirements for obtaining a limited driving privilege
  2. Obtain a DL-123 form from your auto insurance company
  3. Obtain an alcohol assessment
  4. Prepare an Refusal Limited Driving Privilege form
  5. Have an Ignition Interlock system installed on your vehicle
  6. Obtain a letter from your employer stating the hours you work
  7. Take the driving privilege and other documents to the Clerk of Court in the county where the implied consent offense was charged
  8. Pay $100 to the Clerk of Court’s office
  9. Only drive within the parameters of the privilege

How Do I get A Impaired Driving Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina?

In order to obtain an Impaired Driving Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina, you must be able to fulfill the following nine steps:

  1. Meet all the eligibility requirements for obtaining a limited driving privilege
  2. Obtain a DL-123 form from your auto insurance company
  3. Obtain an alcohol assessment
  4. Prepare an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Privilege
  5. Have an Ignition Interlock system installed on your vehicle
  6. Obtain a letter from your employer stating the hours you work
  7. Take the driving privilege and other documents to the Clerk of Court in the county where the implied consent offense was charged
  8. Pay $100 to the Clerk of Court’s office
  9. Only drive within the parameters of the privilege

How do I get a Pre-trial Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina?

In order to obtain a Pre-trial Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina, you must be able to fulfill the following ten steps:

  1. Meet all the eligibility requirements for obtaining a pre-trial limited driving privilege
  2. File a petition for a pre-trial limited driving privilege using form AOC-CVR-9
  3. Serve the petition to the District Attorney’s office
  4. Obtain a DL-123 form from your auto insurance company
  5. Obtain an alcohol assessment
  6. Prepare an Pre-Trial Limited Driving Privilege
  7. Obtain a letter from your employer stating the hours you work
  8. Attend the hearing scheduled by the Clerk of Court on the Pre-Trial Limited Driving Privilege
  9. Pay $100 to the Clerk of Court’s office
  10. 10. Only drive within the parameters of the privilege

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

I Need A Lawyer For: DWI  •  Personal Injury  •  Criminal Law Car Accidents  •  Family Law  •  Worker’s Compensation

Aggressive Criminal Defense. Client Focused Service.

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David H.
If attorneys are going to be this compassionate and nice I am going to have to stop telling attorney jokes.
Hilary S.
All questions were answered in a timely, respectful, and friendly manner. The firm's attorneys are devoted and their areas of expertise are far-ranging. This firm is top-notch!
William R.
...I had a note to myself on my calendar to follow up with their office, however, before that date came, they contacted ME, had successfully taken care of my traffic offense and sent me confirmation in the mail...

J. Nelson

This Law Firm really knows how to get the job done!...All the Attorney's here are very professional and easy to deal with. I highly recommend The Minick Law Firm for any of your needs. Thank you!

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Office Locations

Asheville

30 Orchard St. Asheville, NC 28801 P: (828) 333-5024

Charlotte

2015 Ayrsley Town Blvd. #202-253 Charlotte, NC 28273 P: (704) 215-4242

Gastonia

104 E. Main Ave Gastonia, NC 28052 P: (704) 323-8485

Waynesville

258 N. Main Street Waynesville, NC 28786 P: (828) 333-5035

Wilmington

321 N Front St #210, Wilmington, NC 28401 P: (910) 338-3994

Disclaimer

Every case is different, no results are guaranteed. This site and its information is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information to us.

Areas of Service

Cities: Asheville, Charlotte, Gastonia, Waynesville, and Wilmington. Counties: Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Columbus, Gaston, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincolnton, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey.
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