Asheville DUI Defense Lawyer

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Asheville DUI Defense Attorney

If you were arrested or charged with DUI/DWI in Asheville, NC, your freedom, finances, and reputation are on the line. You want legal representation by experienced lawyers who understand the intricacies of North Carolina DUI laws, and ones who can fight relentlessly to preserve your freedoms and rights.

At Doug Edwards Law, our team of experienced Asheville criminal defense attorneys has a great track record for their DUI defense services. Our team is led by a former prosecutor and is known for providing top-quality DUI/DWI defense to clients in and around Asheville.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI/DWI in North Carolina, it’s time to place the case in the hands of an Asheville DUI defense lawyer from Doug Edwards Law. Our firm stands ready to aggressively represent you and pursue the best possible resolution for your case.

Table of Contents

What Is the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Limit in North Carolina?

Under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1, it’s illegal to drive a motor vehicle on the street, highway, or any other public place while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Under the same law, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08% or more.

Still, a person can be charged with DUI when their BAC level is less than .08% in the following situations.

  • Impairment. A person can be arrested for DUI/DWI if they are found driving under the influence of an impairing substance.
  • Controlled substance. You can be charged with DWI if there is any amount of controlled substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, or heroin, in your system.
  • Commercial drivers. Commercial drivers are generally held to a much higher standard in North Carolina. As such, they can easily be arrested for DUI/DWI if their BAC is 0.04 percent or higher.
  • Drivers below 21 years of age. North Carolina law has zero tolerance for any drunk drivers under 21 years old. Such a driver could be convicted of DUI/DWI if they are found to be appreciably impaired, or have a BAC of 0.08 or more. A driver under 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system may be charged and convicted of Driving After Consuming Being Less Than 21.

What Penalties Can I Face for a DUI in North Carolina?

North Carolina laws punish DWI convictions on a sliding scale. For this reason, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, including DUI and other factors, if convicted, you could be punished with a specific level of sentencing as outlined below.

Punishment Levels

If convicted of DWI, you will be sentenced based on the specific circumstances of the offense, and whether or not aggravating factors exist. There are six different levels of DWI sentencing in North Carolina. If convicted you could face the following penalties:

  • Level Five DWI – between 24 hours and 60 days imprisonment, and fines up to $200.
  • Level Four DWI – between 48 hours and 120 days imprisonment, and fines up to $500.
  • Level Three DWI – between 72 hours and six months imprisonment, and fines up to $1,000.
  • Level Two DWI – between seven days and one-year imprisonment, and fines up to $2,000.
  • Level One DWI – between 30 days and two years imprisonment, and fines up to $4,000.
  • Aggravated Level One DWI – between 1 and 3 years imprisonment, and fines up to $10,000.

Along with the fines and jail time, you may also be required to complete probation, including substance abuse treatment, alcohol education classes, and community service. Your license will be revoked for at least one year, and in certain circumstances for longer periods of time.

Other consequences may include the revocation of certain professional licenses, higher car insurance premiums, and an inability to gain admission to graduate or college school.

Multiple DUI/DWI Offenses

If you have been convicted of DUI offenses prior to being charged with a DUI, you may face more serious punishments as a result of prior convictions. These more serious punishment levels are described below.

Aggravated Level One DWI

In cases where there are three or more grossly aggravating factors, you may be sentenced as an aggravated Level 1 DWI offender. The penalties for this can include:

  • Fines up to $10,000.
  • One to three years in jail (without the possibility of parole).
  • You must serve at least 120 days in jail.

If your sentence is suspended, you will be required to serve a minimum of 120 days in jail and abstain from alcohol for a minimum of 120 days by wearing a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) device.

Level One DWI

In cases where there are two grossly aggravating factors you may be sentenced as a Level 1 DWI offender. If there is a child under 18, or a person with the mental development of a child under 18, or a person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle, you will be sentenced at a Level 1.

Penalties include:

  • A fine not exceeding $4000.
  • 30 days minimum to two years in jail.

If your sentence is suspended, the judge must sentence you to at least 30 days. In the alternative, the judge may order you to serve 10 days in jail, and abstain from alcohol consumption by wearing a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) device for at least 120 days. The judge will also require that you obtain a substance abuse assessment and follow through with treatment as required by law.

Level 2 DWI

If you are convicted of DWI, and there is one grossly aggravating factor present you will be sentenced as a Level 2 DWI offender. Level 2 punishment includes:

  • Fines not exceeding $2,000.
  • Seven days minimum to one year in jail.

If your sentence is suspended, the Judge may impose a 7-day active term or alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 90 days. These sanctions are in addition to the substance abuse assessment and education or treatment that is required under statute.

Level 3 DWI

If your case has no grossly aggravating factors present, but the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, you could face Level 3 DWI punishment. Penalties for level 3 DWI include:

  • Fines not exceeding $1,000.
  • 72 hours minimum to six months in jail.

The judge must order a minimum of 72 hours in jail or 72 hours of community service. You must also complete a substance abuse assessment and education or treatment as required by law.

Level 4 DWI

In cases where there are no mitigating or aggravating factors present in your case, or when the aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by the aggravating factors, you may face Level 4 DWI punishment.

Penalties for Level 4 DWI include:

  • Fines not exceeding $500.
  • 48 hours to 120 days in jail.

The judge must order a minimum of 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service. You must also complete a substance abuse assessment and education or treatment as required by law.

Level 5 DWI

In cases where the mitigating factors substantially outweigh the aggravating factors, the court will punish you as a Level 5 DWI offender. Penalties for Level 5 DWI include the following:

  • Fines not exceeding $200.
  • 24 hours to 60 days in jail

The judge must order a minimum of 24 hours in jail or 24 hours of community service. You will also be required to complete a substance abuse assessment and education or treatment as required by law.

Aside from the fines and jail time, you face several other consequences if you are found guilty of a second or third DWI in Asheville North Carolina. Such penalties may include suspension of your driver’s license, higher insurance rates, inability to maintain or obtain certain professional licenses, installation of an ignition interlock device, and immigration issues, among others.

What Is the Habitual DUI Law in North Carolina?

If you have previously been convicted of multiple DWIs, the next charge may likely be a felony. The main element that leads to a habitual DWI charge in NC is three or more previous convictions for DWI within the preceding 10 years of your current charge.

If you have drunk driving charges on your record within these 10 years, you may be charged with a Class F felony. If convicted you will be subject to much harsher penalties.

Penalties for habitual DWI or felony DWI in NC include:

  • A minimum mandatory jail sentence of one year. The judge cannot suspend the 12-month mandatory minimum.
  • Large fines.
  • Permanent revocation of driving privileges.

Additionally, a habitual DWI in NC will bring along serious consequences, including:

  • Your driver’s license is permanently revoked (per NCGS § 20-138.5).
  • You can’t maintain or obtain certain professional licenses.
  • Issues with child custody and visitation.
  • Immigration issues.
  • Forfeiting your vehicle (if you’re charged with DWI while driving on a suspended license).
  • Mandatory alcohol and/or substance abuse counseling.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in North Carolina?

North Carolina has relatively strict laws when it comes to DWI and DWI refusals. For starters, as a driver on North Carolina roads, you want to be aware of some of the critical laws so that you can know your rights.

One of these is the implied consent law. Implied consent means that all drivers using North Carolina roads give consent to chemical analysis. The law says that if you drive on any N.C. road or highway, you consent to chemical tests and analysis by law enforcement if you’re suspected of drunk driving.

Since driving on the roadway implies consent, refusing to submit to testing carries significant penalties If you refuse to submit to these tests, your license is automatically revoked for at least one year.

However, the law also requires the arresting police officers to follow due procedure when administering tests and making the arrests. They have to inform you, orally and in writing, of your rights, and complete certain paperwork and send it to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

In many jurisdictions across the State of North Carolina, if you refuse to provide a breath sample upon request by a law enforcement officer, the officer will apply to a magistrate judge for a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. In this case, you will be taken before a medical professional to have your blood drawn. The sample will be sent off to the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory for testing, and a result will be reported to DMV and the Court.

What Is a Felony DUI in North Carolina?

DWI offenses are regarded as misdemeanors in North Carolina unless you are found to be a Habitual DWI offender or the DUI violation results in death or serious injury.

Offenses that might result in a Felony DUI include:

  • Vehicular homicide resulting from impaired driving
  • Death resulting from impaired driving
  • Habitual DUI convictions
  • Serious injury resulting from impaired driving

Common Defenses in DUI Cases

Our Asheville DUI defense lawyers will work to find the best possible defense strategy for your case. Here are some of the common defenses in DUI cases.

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion for a Vehicle Stop

In a case where the arresting officer pulled you over without having a reasonable suspicion, you may have a valid defense against your DWI charge. Before a law enforcement officer pulls you over, they must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. The officer must have had a reasonable belief that a crime is being or has been committed.

After a comprehensive review of the evidence and facts of your case, Doug Edwards will make a determination on whether or not there are grounds to file a motion to suppress. If an officer makes a vehicle stop without reasonable suspicion, a motion to suppress can be filed.

This procedure will trigger a hearing in front of a judge to determine whether or not the traffic stop is supported by reasonable suspicion. If the judge finds that there was not reasonable suspicion, the Judge orders all evidence obtained after the stop is inadmissible in Court. This means the State is limited to what evidence can be presented, and oftentimes results in a dismissal of charges.

Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest

In every case in which an officer arrests an individual, they must have probable cause to arrest. Probable cause is a legal standard that police must meet before they arrest you for any crime, including DWI. The standard for probable cause is higher than reasonable suspicion, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard needed to be met to find you guilty of a crime.

Before a police officer arrests you for DWI in North Carolina, the officer must have enough facts and evidence to establish that you have committed or are committing the offense of DWI. The determination of probable cause is fact specific and is unique to each case. In order to establish probable cause, the police officers will use training to determine whether or not you are impaired at the time of driving. This may include field sobriety tests or other non-physical tests.

After a review of the evidence and facts of your case, Doug will make a determination on whether or not there are grounds to file a motion to suppress based on the lack of probable cause to arrest. If the judge finds that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest, the judge will order that all evidence obtained after you were arrested is not admissible in Court. This will limit the State in what evidence may be presented at trial, and may result in a dismissal of the charges.

Challenging the Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

Currently, there are only three field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Travel and Safety Administration (NHTSA), that law enforcement officers use to establish probable cause for arrest. Of course, there are many other tests the officer may use to establish probable cause. However, some of these are not scientifically valid and are not supported by scientific evidence.

Additionally, police officers have to undergo official NHTSA training to correctly perform these tests. If a test is not conducted according to the due procedure, its validity may be called into question.

Our attorneys have first-hand knowledge about how these tests work and have received the same training that Law Enforcement Officers receive. In fact, Doug Edwards has trained officers in DWI investigation and Enforcement.

Challenging Inaccurate Breath Tests

If you are charged with DWI, an officer will likely ask you to take a breathalyzer test. An officer can ask you to submit to a breath test if they have reasonable grounds to believe you were driving while impaired. In many instances, this arises after you have been in an accident, committed a moving violation, or the officer has stopped you and has probable cause to believe you committed an implied consent offense (DWI/DUI).

The result of a breathalyzer test is likely the strongest evidence of impairment against you. Prosecutors rely heavily on test results. A strong DWI defense attorney will consider this evidence when developing a viable defense to your case.

In some cases, the breathalyzer test may be challenged. Some considerations are:

  • Whether the officer used a device approved by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Whether the officer administering the test had been trained on testing procedures, use of the device, and held a certificate issued by the NC DHHS.
  • Whether the testing instrument was correctly calibrated.
  • Whether the test was administered in compliance with the rules and regulations of the NC DHHS.
  • Whether the officer advised you of your implied consent rights.

If you are facing drunk driving charges, contact us today. Doug Edwards will review the facts and circumstances of your case to identify whether or not the breathalyzer test can be challenged.

Improper Administration of a Blood Test or Tampering

Blood tests are supposed to follow a standard process, meaning that there should be less room for error. The arresting officer may take you to the EMS station or the hospital where a nurse will draw your blood. They will usually draw two vials of blood, to allow for retesting.

However, there are ways to challenge blood testing in North Carolina. If your blood was drawn during your DWI process, contact us for a case evaluation to determine whether or not the blood sample was obtained properly.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. This protection applies in cases where blood was obtained in DWI cases. A thorough review by an experienced DWI/DUI attorney is crucial to help protect your rights and your future.

How Can an Asheville DUI Defense Lawyer Help Me?

Many people often assume there is little to do when you’re accused of drunk driving, but this is just not true. Our team of experienced DWI attorneys at Doug Edwards law will work to ensure your best possible outcome based on the circumstances.

The following are some of the other ways your DUI defense lawyer will help.

Compiling Evidence

Just as with other aspects of the law, DWI conviction cases will require evidence to prove the guilt or innocence of the defendant. As such, you need to take time to gather enough pieces of evidence, which can be a tedious and complicated process during an already overwhelming situation.

Fortunately, your DUI lawyer will take care of much of this for you. He or she may compile evidence, obtain witness statements, and engage with expert witnesses., Your lawyer should also prepare paperwork and documentation to help in your defense of the charges against you.

Plea Negotiations

Many times it is in the interest of all parties to enter into a plea agreement. However, you should consider engaging with an experienced DUI lawyer before agreeing to plead guilty to any offense. Convictions, by plea or trial, have serious and life-long consequences.

Our Asheville DUI defense lawyers can leverage years of negotiation experience, giving you a major advantage in getting a favorable outcome.

Depending on the available evidence, your lawyer can identify the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. This may result in challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. Generally, the State aggressively prosecutes DWI/DUI charges in North Carolina.

It is important to have someone defending you that is familiar with the court process, laws, and the people involved in the case. Doug provides unparalleled experience and will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

Trial Experience

DWI/DUI cases are some of the most litigated cases in North Carolina. From the stop or contact with law enforcement to the final verdict in a case, DWI cases are some of the most complex cases. There are so many issues involved, including whether or not the officer has reasonable suspicion to stop your car, whether the officer has probable cause to arrest, whether the field sobriety tests were conducted properly, and whether or not the breathalyzer was administered pursuant to the law, rules, and regulations.

Because there are so many potential issues in these cases, it is so important to have representation that has tried these cases before. Doug Edwards has tried more than 100 cases to a jury verdict. He is prepared to defend you and is comfortable trying a case before a judge or a jury.

Addressing Your Charges

Having a lawyer by your side can be invaluable when facing other charges alongside your DUI charge, or if your DWI charges have been upgraded to a felony.

Your attorney will be able to help guide you and prevent you from making mistakes that could be detrimental to your case. He/she will also help you obtain outside professionals that might be necessary to present an effective legal defense, such as private investigators or expert witnesses.

Helping to Restore Your Driving Privileges

Our DUI defense attorneys understand the NC court system, Asheville’s local rules of the court, and many other “unwritten rules.”

With this in mind, your lawyer will also be working to not only preserve your rights and your freedom but also fight to restore your driving privileges. You can rely on Doug Edwards Law to deliver the best possible outcome under the circumstances of each case.

Talk to an Experienced Asheville DUI Defense Attorney Today!

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or DWI offense in Asheville or the surrounding areas, you should talk to a lawyer immediately. Such a conviction could leave you with a permanent record, and could result in your driver’s license being suspended for a long time. That’s why you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible about your case.

The DWI lawyers at Doug Edwards Law represent clients charged with DWI/DUI in Asheville and the surrounding areas. Call us today at (828) 702-8743 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free case assessment.

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