There is no doubt that western North Carolina is home to many beautiful state parks, attracting families and individuals from all over the country. Enjoying your day hiking or fishing and then taking a scenic sunset drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway can be an amazing way to spend the weekend. Some individuals, however, choose to add alcohol to their daytime experiences, putting their ability to drive safely at risk. This could result in a confrontation with police or park law enforcement, leaving them facing a federal DUI charge. In North Carolina, where you are charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, could make a significant difference in the penalties you could face.
The federal DUI attorney at Edwards Law, PLLC, is experienced in defending clients from DUI at both the federal and state levels. For over a decade, we have dedicated ourselves to knowing both state and federal laws and how they may impact our clients. If you’ve been charged with a federal DUI, get the help you deserve from an attorney who uses the facts of your case, and their knowledge of the law, to build a defense that’s right for you.
Where you receive your DUI will determine whether you are charged at the state or the federal level. Generally speaking, any land that is federally owned will result in a federal charge. These types of locations include national parks or forests, military bases, or any federally owned and operated parkways. In North Carolina, these types of places include:
These locations, and more like them throughout western North Carolina, are all federally owned and operated. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware that they are on federal land until it is too late.
There are several similarities between state and federal DUI charges. Like the state law, to receive a federal DUI charge, your blood alcohol content (BAC) must be .08% or higher. If you are arrested on federal land after being accused of violating this threshold, the Assimilative Crimes Act dictates that the potential penalties you could face will be similar to those at the state level. This Act declares that state law can apply to some charges that occur on federal property. An attorney who understands this can better prepare to defend your case.
The state uses a sliding scale to determine punishments based on a number of factors. These factors include prior convictions, your BAC level, and more. If, for example, you are facing a first-time DUI and your charge is for a Level 5 DUI, the lowest, you still could face a number of penalties, including:
As the scale moves up, and your charges become more serious, the penalties increase. If you are convicted of a more serious DUI:
One significant difference between state and federal charges applies if your offense occurs on a military base. Whether you are actively in the military or a civilian on the base, if you are charged and convicted of DUI on a base, you will lose your privilege to drive on base.
A federal DUI charge is also different from a state charge if the DUI occurs in a national park. Even though most DUI charges will face state-level penalties, receiving a DUI in a national park is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which will result in federal penalties. Unlike a first-time conviction at the state level, a first-time conviction in a state park can involve:
With a significant difference in penalties depending on where the DUI occurred, it is wise to contact a DUI attorney who understands both federal and state law. Unfortunately, not knowing where you were when you received the charge is not a defense against it. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and help you understand your options.
With the sliding scale for DUI penalties in North Carolina, there are many factors that need to be considered to determine the penalties you could ultimately face. When deciding the potential consequences for your case, there are several aggravating and mitigating circumstances taken into account.
Aggravating factors include:
Mitigating factors include:
When considering the penalties you could face, a judge will determine if your aggravating factors outweigh your mitigating factors.
Defending a DUI charge, whether at the state or federal level, is a matter of the circumstances surrounding your case. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand which strategy may be right for your case. To do so, however, you need to be honest with your attorney about the details of your case. Common DUI defenses include:
While these are the most common types of defense, your attorney can guide you through your options after reviewing your case and conducting an investigation.
The cost of an attorney who can help defend a DUI charge will vary depending on the severity of the charge, the experience of the attorney, and the amount of time needed to build a defense. However, you can expect to pay around $2,500. While financial concerns may be a factor in your decision, the quality of the attorney you hire could make a difference in the result of your case.
To have your DUI charges dismissed, your DUI defense attorney can review all the evidence in your case, including all the tests, documentation, and video recordings of the incident. Many cases are dismissed because there was a lack of suspicion for being pulled over or because your civil rights were violated.
A DUI charge on its own cannot be pleaded down. However, if you are charged with multiple crimes in association with your DUI charge, your attorney can work to have those charges reduced or dismissed. To do so, they will need to negotiate with the prosecutor, which can often result in a plea deal.
North Carolina does not have a state mandate that jail time is required for a DWI charge. However, the aggravating circumstances of your case will determine the penalties that a judge could impose on you. These circumstances include your BAC, the commission of any other crimes at the time, your previous convictions, and more.
If you have been charged with a DUI at a national park or other federally owned location, you should seek the help of an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney. At Edwards Law, PLLC, our team has over a decade of experience defending our clients from DUI charges at both the state and federal levels. We know that a conviction can be life-changing, so we can review the facts of your case to build a defense unique to your situation. Get the help you deserve and contact our offices today.