Raleigh DUI Attorney
If you are accused of driving while intoxicated, you are facing serious penalties that may include heavy fines, losing your license, and even time in jail. After your sentence, your record will continue to follow you any time an employer or property management company runs a background check. At the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., we don’t believe a mistake should negatively affect the rest of your life, and our Raleigh DUI Attorneys are dedicated to fighting on your behalf to help you move forward.
Determining DWI in NC
In North Carolina, a police officer can pull you over if they suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Common reasons include:
- Swerving or failing to stay in your lane
- Missing a traffic light or sign
- Reckless driving
- Inability to maintain a safe, consistent speed
Once you have been pulled over, the officer will look for signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or the scent of alcohol, and may ask you to get out of the car to perform a series of sobriety tests or submit to an alcohol breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).
In North Carolina, the legal driving BAC is .08 percent, and for commercial drivers, the level is .04 percent. If you are found to have a BAC exceeding the legal limit, you will be charged with driving while intoxicated.
Consequences of a DWI in North Carolina
A DWI is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, but the penalty is determined by whether there are aggravating or mitigating factors.
Grossly Aggravating Factors
A grossly aggravating factor in a DWI case make the charges more severe as they compound the crime and include:
- Driving while intoxicated with a minor or disabled person in the car counts as two grossly aggravating factors;
- A previous conviction within the past seven years of the current charge;
- Driving while intoxicated with a suspended license due to a previous DWI
- Causing an accident in which another person was seriously injured.
Aggravating factors will also make your penalty more severe, but not to the extent of grossly aggravating factors. These factors include:
- BAC of 0.15 or above
- Causing an accident that does not result in serious injury;
- Having two or more traffic violations but no DWIs;
- Driving on a suspended license (but not due to DWI);
- Having a DWI conviction more than seven years old;
A judge uses mitigating factors to lessen the penalty of a DWI and can positively influence your outcome. These include:
- BAC of 0.09 or below;
- Impairment was caused by a legally prescribed medication that was taken in the prescribed manner;
- Having a safe driving record;
DUI and DWI Penalties
The DWI charge and the factors are then used to determine the “Level” of DWI and assign the applicable penalty.
- Level 1A (Most severe): Three or more grossly aggravating factors; minimum 120 days in jail up to 36 months in jail.
- Level 1: Two grossly aggravating factors; minimum 30 days in jail up to 24 months;
- Level 2: One grossly aggravating factor; minimum 7 days in jail up to 12 months
- Level 3: More aggravating factors than mitigating factors; up to six months in jail and possible community service;
- Level 4: Equal amounts of mitigating and aggravating factors; up to 120 days in jail and possible community service;
- Level 5: More mitigating factors than aggravating factors: up to 60 days in jail and possible community service.
There is a wide range of variables that determine the penalty if found guilty of driving while intoxicated. An experienced DWI lawyer will work to highlight mitigating factors and reduce aggravating factors as well as strive to obtain the lowest possible penalty for the level of DWI determined.
The Consequences of an Underage DWI
North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for minors when it comes to drinking and driving and the legal BAC for minors is 0.0 percent. This means that if you are under 21 and found to have any alcohol whatsoever in your system, you are facing a Class 2 misdemeanor with a possible punishment of 60 days in jail and up to a $1000 fine. However, any grossly aggravating or aggravating factors can also affect the punishment.
Refusing an Alcohol Breathalyzer
If you are suspected of driving while intoxicated, the officer may request to administer a portable breathalyzer test. You can and should refuse this and other field sobriety tests as they are often inaccurate and will be used against you in your case. However, the officer may (and most likely will) arrest you for suspicion of DWI, and you’ll be taken to the police station.
At this point, North Carolina General Statute 20-16.2 outlines that driving on state roads falls under “implied consent,” meaning you automatically consent to a blood alcohol test or chemical analysis if you are charged with DWI. Refusal to do this will lead to immediately having your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of one year. However, if you know you have been drinking and may be subject to more severe penalties, it may be beneficial to refuse the test and speak with a DWI lawyer in Raleigh.
Why You Need a DWI and DUI Lawyer
A DWI conviction will follow you for years and can include time in jail, heavy fines, and an inability to find employment or even rent an apartment. You have the Constitutional right to legal representation in your case, and we will fight on your behalf to protect your rights and create a strategy that will lead to the best practical outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances, we strive to have charges dropped or reduced, introduce mitigating circumstances, and minimize penalties in order to help you move forward with your life.
At The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., we are committed to providing the best defense to our clients and have successfully represented thousands of clients.
Dedicated Legal Counsel
Our determined DWI and DUI defense lawyers helped individuals and families with thousands of DWI and DUI cases and assisted countless others with their differing legal needs. Serving clients throughout Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Fayetteville and the rest of NC, we fight aggressively to help those in need. We offer a free consultation and affordable rates to help you pursue the DWI defense you deserve.
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