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Waynesville DUI Defense Lawyer

Waynesville DUI Defense Attorney

One of the most serious allegations that a driver can face in Waynesville, NC is a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. The possible consequences of a DUI include a suspended license, hours of community service, hefty fines, and jail time.

DUI cases have become increasingly unnecessarily complex in North Carolina. The DUI laws are changing constantly and tougher statutes are being passed just about every year while new appellate court decisions are being handed down fairly regularly.

If you are currently facing DUI charges, you need to consider working with the experienced Waynesville DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law. Call us today at (828) 702-8743 to schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Waynesville, NC.

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

Police officers in Waynesville, NC will administer a breathalyzer to check a driver’s BAC, or the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream to determine whether or not they are intoxicated. The higher the BAC level is, the more intoxicated the person is.

The BAC limit in North Carolina is different depending on the driver. The BAC limit is 0.08% for legal drinkers (21 years and older). The level, however, is much lower for commercial drivers at 0.04%. Anyone underage that’s pulled over and found to have a BAC of any level can be charged with a DUI.

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

DUI is a somewhat odd charge in the state because there’s a special statute for sentencing it. People often assume that DUI offenses are classified as a misdemeanor. In reality, however, impaired driving isn’t truly a misdemeanor or a felony, except in the case of habitual impaired driving.

Prior to sentencing, the judge will take into account whether or not you had any mitigating, aggravated, or grossly aggravating factors associated with your DUI charge.

Mitigating Factors

A mitigating factor translates to less harsh punishment. Mitigating factors include:

  • You were driving safely even though you were impaired.
  • You were driving while impaired after taking prescription medication.
  • You had no serious prior traffic offenses.
  • Your BAC was not higher than 0.09%.
  • You joined a substance abuse program after being charged but prior to sentencing.
  • You voluntarily admitted yourself into a mental health facility after being charged but before sentencing.

Aggravating Factors

An aggravating factor, on the other hand, will make the level of punishment go up. The following are examples of aggravating factors.

  • Your BAC was higher than 0.15%.
  • You were speeding 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.
  • You were eluding or fleeing from a police officer.
  • You have been convicted of 2 or more serious traffic offenses.
  • You were found driving with a revoked license.
  • You were driving negligently, which led to an accident.
  • You passed a stopped school bus.
  • You were engaging in especially reckless or dangerous driving.

Grossly Aggravating Factors

We also have “grossly” aggravating factors that lead to even more severe punishment than aggravating factors.

  • Driving with a license that has been revoked for impaired driving.
  • You had a previous impaired driving conviction that has been less than 7 years prior to the conviction under consideration.
  • Another person was seriously injured in a related accident.
  • You had a minor with you in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Levels of Punishment for DUI in North Carolina

North Carolina penalizes DUI with 5 levels and an additional Aggravated Level 1 of penalties. The least severe is Level 5 while Aggravated Level 1 has the worst punishment. The level of sentencing is determined by the existence of certain mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors listed above and, on a case-by-case basis.

Level 5

If it is determined that the mitigating factors substantially outweighed any aggravating factors, it is declared a Level 5 DUI, which attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $200
  • A minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days
  • The sentence can be suspended but on the condition that the driver performs 24 hours of community service or doesn’t operate a vehicle for 30 days.

Level 4

If there are no mitigating or aggravating factors, or the factors balance each other out, it is declared a Level 4 DUI, which attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • A minimum jail term of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days
  • The sentence can be suspended but on the condition that the driver performs 48 hours of community service or doesn’t operate a vehicle for 60 days.

Level 3

If the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors, it is declared a Level 3 DUI, which attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of 6 months
  • The sentence can be suspended but on the condition that the driver performs 72 hours of community service or doesn’t operate a vehicle for 90 days.

Level 2

If there’s at least one grossly aggravating factor present, it is declared a Level 2 DUI, which attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • A minimum jail sentence of 7 days and a maximum of 1 year. The minimum sentence here cannot be suspended.

Level 1

A DUI becomes Level 1, which attracts the harshest punishments, if there are 2 or more aggravating factors present. The penalties for a Level 1 DUI include:

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • A minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of 2 years. The minimum sentence cannot be suspended.

Aggravated Level 1

If 3 or more aggravating factors apply, it is declared an Aggravated Level 1 DUI, which attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A minimum prison sentence of 1 year and a maximum of 3 years. The minimum sentence cannot be suspended.

Implied Consent Laws in North Carolina

Like most other states, North Carolina has an implied consent law that mandates that any driver that operates a vehicle on a public roadway is obligated to have his or her blood alcohol content tested if they are arrested for a DUI.

Implied consent also requires that the police officer who stopped you must have evidence to support the belief that you were intoxicated to place you under arrest and then require a breath, urine, or blood test.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in North Carolina?

Implied consent might be the law of the land in North Carolina, but it is still possible for you to refuse to take the breathalyzer test. However, you should always remember that your refusal to submit to the test will be met with serious consequences.

If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test at the time of the arrest, your license is automatically revoked and suspended for 30 days, followed by a 1-year suspension by the DMV if you’re convicted of or plead guilty to a DUI charge. Your refusal may also result in substantial fines.

It is important to note that losing your license after refusing to submit to the breathalyzer test, which is otherwise referred to as administrative suspension, can and will likely be imposed on top of any license-related penalties you will likely face in the criminal portion of your case.

What Is a Felony DUI in North Carolina?

DUI can be a felony in North Carolina, and the offense is habitual DUI. You can be charged with this offense if you were driving while impaired and were convicted of 3 or more other DUI-related offenses within 10 years of the date of the most current offense. The offenses include:

  • Vehicular homicide due to impaired driving
  • Habitual impaired driving
  • Death or serious injury caused by impaired driving
  • Involuntary manslaughter that involves impaired driving
  • Impaired driving in a commercial vehicle
  • Substantially similar offenses in other states or even another country

If you are convicted of felony DUI, you face a mandatory prison sentence of 12 to 59 months, possible suspension of your driver’s license, and seizure of the vehicle you were driving when you were arrested if certain requirements have been met. You may also have to go through an alcohol treatment program while incarcerated to be paroled.

Common Defenses in DUI Cases

To help you mount a good defense if you are charged with a DUI in North Carolina, you should consider working with the experienced Waynesville DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law. We have a few different options when it comes to mounting a good defense.

Lack of Probable Cause for Stop

Police are prohibited by the law from arbitrarily stopping or pulling over private citizens without what’s referred to as “reasonable suspicion.” A police officer isn’t allowed to stop you unless he/she has a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a traffic or criminal offense.

If you were not speeding or driving recklessly, used your turn signals, and had a valid tag, the police officer may not have had reasonable suspicion to actually stop you and we could fight to get the charges against you dismissed.

Challenging the Accuracy of Tests

If field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests were administered either at the scene of your arrest or at the police station, we can help you challenge the results of these tests and hopefully get the charges you face dismissed.

For instance, the breathalyzer machine may not have been properly calibrated and adequately maintained. Furthermore, the officer may not have administered it properly. He also may not have received proper training in its use.

We can use various defenses to challenge the accuracy of tests resulting in the dismissal of charges.

How Can a Waynesville DUI Defense Lawyer Help Me?

Our experienced Waynesville DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law can help with the following:

Getting Your Charges Dismissed or Reduced

Our lawyers will assess the facts surrounding your case and determine whether procedural errors by the police, issues with the evidence, or inaccurate blood, breathalyzer, or field sobriety tests could be viable avenues for getting the charges you face dismissed or reduced.

Helping You Understand Your Options

DUI laws in North Carolina are complex and it can be daunting to navigate the court system alone. You might be tempted to plead guilty immediately just to be done with your DUI case. However, you need to fully explore your options to make educated decisions.

If you have our lawyers negotiating with the prosecution on your behalf, it can help lessen the impact that the DUI may have on your life. If your case ends up going to trial, we can help you prepare and develop a strategy to increase the chances of a favorable verdict for you.

Understanding the Law and Procedures

Our lawyers handle numerous DUI cases and have a good understanding of North Carolina’s statutes as well as the applicable case law in your case. This allows us to be up-to-date on possible defenses that could be beneficial to you.

Furthermore, we have a good understanding of the court procedures that have to be followed along with how the judge assigned to your case handles DUI and DWI cases in general so that we can adjust our strategy accordingly.

Have You Been Charged With a DUI in North Carolina? We Can Help!

If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, having an experienced lawyer can make the difference between your freedom and being incarcerated. Fortunately, that’s exactly what you will get if you decide to work with Doug Edwards Law in Waynesville, NC.

Doug Edwards is a Board-Certified Specialist in North Carolina Criminal Law. As a former Buncombe County prosecutor, he understands how the prosecution approaches DUI cases. He uses his vast experience and knowledge to help secure the best possible outcome for clients facing DWI/DUI charges.

Our legal team will work hard to fight for your rights. We will seek to have the charges you face either completely dismissed or at least reduced, and we will stand by you throughout the proceedings. Call us today at (828) 702-8743 to set up a free consultation.

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