Driving under the influence (DUI), which is also referred to as driving while impaired (DWI), drugged driving, or drunk driving, is a very common charge in North Carolina. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction carries serious penalties that will inevitably affect your freedom, wallet, and career. Fortunately, you don’t have to accept the punishment if you’re charged with DUI since you can fight the charges.
Our tough Etowah DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law will fight for you if you are facing DUI charges. We will challenge any evidence presented by the prosecution including breathalyzer test results to seek to get the charges you face either completely dismissed or reduced. Call us today at (828) 702-8743 to discuss your charges with our experienced and highly qualified Etowah criminal defense lawyers.
In North Carolina, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle if you are noticeably impaired or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher. If you drive a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is 0.04. If you are below the legal drinking age of 21 or drive a school bus or daycare van, you may be found violating the law if you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your blood.
You might be wondering what penalties you are likely to face if you are convicted of DUI in North Carolina. The state uses a unique sentencing structure when it comes to DUI convictions. Penalties are essentially based on the “level” of the offense, which is in turn ranked in descending seriousness. The lower the level of the offense, the higher the level of punishment will be.
The 5 DUI penalty levels are as follows.
During sentencing, the judge first evaluates the evidence presented and then weighs the presence of mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors. Mitigating factors can lead to a lower sentence while aggravating and grossly aggravating factors mean harsher punishment.
Penalties for DUI in North Carolina are quite severe. The conviction remains on your driving record for 7 years if it is a misdemeanor or 10 years for a felony habitual DUI.
North Carolina has taken a particularly tough stance on DUI offenders in recent years. You face severe penalties even if it’s your first DUI offense. That’s why it is so important to seek aggressive legal representation if you are facing DUI charges in Etowah.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what we provide at Doug Edwards Law. Call us today at (828) 702-8743 to schedule a consultation with our experienced Etowah DUI defense lawyers.
A first DUI offense may be sentenced under the least severe level (Level 5). However, if aggravating factors are involved, the judge will impose a sentence on one of the more severe levels.
If you are convicted of a DUI again, you will be subject to increased penalties in some categories. Otherwise, the consequences generally depend on the level of your conviction.
All DUI convictions in North Carolina carry a mandatory substance abuse assessment, which needs to be followed by the recommended treatment or rehabilitative program. The court may allow this treatment time to count towards the driver’s required jail time.
Anyone charged with a DUI in North Carolina is also required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle. The device prevents you from starting the vehicle if there’s any alcohol on your breath.
If you submit to alcohol monitoring, it is possible to be eligible for early reinstatement. If you complete the program, a 4-year license revocation could be reduced to 2 years while a lifetime suspension could be erased after just 3 years. To be eligible, drivers are required to submit a certificate of completion for the substance abuse treatment mandated by the court.
Driving is considered a privilege and not a right under the law. Like numerous other states, North Carolina has an implied consent law, which means that all drivers that face a lawful arrest for drunk or impaired driving are required to submit to chemical testing to determine blood alcohol content level, including breathalyzers and blood tests.
Prior to any testing being done, police in North Carolina are required to first advise the arrested driver of their rights including:
The police officer is required to give this advisement before conducting a roadside breathalyzer test before they make an arrest. The driver will usually be required to sign a form indicating that they have received the advisory and understood the rights contained in it.
One notable aspect of the advisement of implied consent is that a driver may refuse chemical testing of any form including breathalyzer testing. However, doing so isn’t without consequences, because refusing chemical testing actually violates the implied consent laws.
If you refuse a breathalyzer test in North Carolina you will face an immediate revocation of your license for a period of up to 1 year, or perhaps even longer. Even if your court case doesn’t end in conviction for impaired driving, the license revocation will still be in effect.
Refusing a breathalyzer or other forms of chemical testing can also result in a DUI conviction, even if the police don’t have a record of your BAC level. Courts often interpret the refusal of a breathalyzer test as an admission on the driver’s part that they were driving under the influence.
If you are facing the possibility of a fourth DUI conviction in a 7-year period in North Carolina, you can be punished as a felon, with a minimum term of 1 year’s incarceration. 4-time offenders are also labeled as “habitual impaired offenders” and may not ever regain the right to drive in North Carolina. Authorities may also seize a car at the time of the arrest.
People arrested and charged with a DUI in North Carolina often assume that there’s no hope, but that isn’t the case. North Carolina DUI law is incredibly complex and strict procedures must be followed by police officers and prosecutors at each step to prove a case.
Still, there are plenty of defenses in DUI cases, which include:
Unless a police officer has reason to believe that a driver actually broke a traffic or other law, he or she is not allowed to pull a vehicle over. The officer is also required to articulate a reasonable explanation for stopping the person or vehicle.
Unfortunately, the police in North Carolina often have shaky evidence against drivers for DUI. For instance, they may use a failed field sobriety test or breathalyzer test as probable cause for a DUI arrest, but even sober people sometimes have trouble completing these tests.
If you decide to work with the experienced Etowah DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law, you can expect us to provide the following:
We develop client-specific services and work swiftly to ensure that you get back on the road with your driving privileges intact. While no two cases are ever the same, our legal experience allows us to defend clients facing the most challenging of situations.
If you are unable to carve out time to meet with us face-to-face initially, we can communicate via email or phone. Our offices also stay open until late to have after-hours meetings that adhere to your busy schedule.
If you hire our legal team at Doug Edwards Law in Etowah, NC to represent you, we immediately file a subpoena requesting videos and police reports to ensure that nothing is erased. We also ensure that all motions are filed on time.
The DUI laws in North Carolina are incredibly complicated, but there are viable legal defenses. If you are facing DUI charges in Etowah, we urge you to contact our law firm, Doug Edwards Law. We put the law on your side and protect your rights throughout the entire process.
Call us today at (828) 702-8743 to schedule an appointment with our experienced Etowah DUI defense lawyers.