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DWI & DUI Defense

If you've been charged with DWI or DUI, hire an experienced attorney to provide a strong legal defense.

Raleigh DWI Lawyer | NC DUI Attorney

Raleigh DWI Lawyer

Driving under the influence (DWI) is a serious criminal offense in Raleigh, North Carolina. The state’s DWI laws are strict, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. If you’ve been charged with impaired driving in North Carolina, it’s essential to work with a Raleigh DWI attorney.

At the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., we provide legal representation to clients facing charges for DWI offenses in NC. With an experienced DWI attorney, you can more easily navigate the complex court system, negotiate with the prosecution and district court, and protect your rights and interests in Raleigh, NC and the surrounding areas.

The attorneys from our Wake County law office do not believe one mistake should negatively affect the rest of your life. That’s why our Raleigh DWI attorneys are dedicated to fighting legal issues on your behalf to help you move forward and have the best possible outcome for your case.

Understanding Charges for DWI Cases in NC

In North Carolina, police officers can pull you over if they suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Common reasons for law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion that a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol include:

  • Swerving or failing to stay in your lane
  • Missing a traffic light or sign
  • Reckless or negligent driving
  • Inability to maintain a safe, consistent speed

What to Expect from a DWI Traffic Stop in NC

Once you have been pulled over, the police 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 to see if you have actual physical control of your actions or submit you to an alcohol breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content level.

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)

If the officer suspects impairment, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests to assess your coordination, balance, and cognitive function. Standardized field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye movement) test.

Participation in FSTs is generally voluntary, and you have the right to refuse them. However, refusal may lead to consequences such as arrest.

Breathalyzer Tests

In North Carolina, operating a vehicle implies consent to a chemical analysis of your breath, blood, or urine if you are arrested for DWI. If the officer has probable cause to believe you are impaired, they may request a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol concentration to see if it is beyond the legal limit for driving in NC.

Refusing a breathalyzer test can result in immediate and harsh penalties, including license suspension.

How to Stay Safe During a NC DWI Stop

To stay safe during a DWI stop in North Carolina, it’s important to follow these steps:

  • Remain calm and polite: Keep a calm demeanor and be polite when speaking to the officer.
  • Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights during a DWI stop so you know what to expect.
  • Refrain from making incriminating statements: Don’t make any statements that could incriminate you.
  • Call a DWI attorney: If you’re arrested at a traffic stop, it’s recommended that you call a DWI lawyer to represent you, protect your rights, and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. 

DWI Sentencing and Penalties for Drunk Driving Cases

If you’re facing charges for a DWI offense in Raleigh or the surrounding areas of North Carolina, you’ll face a range of penalties, including fines, jail time, license suspension, and more.

The specific consequences you’ll face from DWI charges that result in a conviction will depend on the circumstances of your case, including your BAC level, whether you have a prior DWI conviction, and any aggravating factors.

Some of the common consequences of DWI convictions in Raleigh include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Driver's license suspension or revocation
  • Community service
  • Substance abuse assessment
  • Alcohol and drug treatment programs
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) installation
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Criminal record

DWI Case Grossly Aggravating Factors

A grossly aggravating factor in DWI cases makes 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 DWI or DUI 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.

DWI Cases Involving Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors will also make your penalty more severe, but not to the extent of gross impairment 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 a motor vehicle on a suspended license (but not due to DWI)
  • Having a DWI conviction more than seven years old

Mitigating Factors for DWI Charges

The district attorney's office may use mitigating factors to lessen the penalty of reckless driving and DWI if there is significant evidence that you do not pose a threat as a repeat offender or danger to the public.

Some potential mitigating factors that can work to help during the sentencing stage of a DWI case include:

  • BAC of 0.09 or below
  • Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug that was taken in the prescribed manner
  • Having a safe driving record with no prior DWI charge or prior conviction

What Are the Legal Penalties for DWI Crimes in North Carolina?

A DWI charge and the factors involved in each specific case are used to determine the “Level” of DWI an individual is charged for, allowing the court to then assign the applicable penalty.

Common DWI penalties include:

  • Level 1A (Most severe): Three or more grossly aggravating factors; a minimum jail sentence of 120 days to 36 months in jail.
  • Level 1: Two grossly aggravating factors, with a minimum 30 days in jail up to 24 months.
  • Level 2: One grossly aggravating factor, with a minimum 7 days in jail up to 12 months.
  • Level 3: More aggravating factors than mitigating factors, with up to six months in jail and possible community service.
  • Level 4: Equal amounts of mitigating and aggravating factors with up to 120 days in jail and possible community service.
  • Level 5: More mitigating factors than aggravating factors, with 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 in NC. An experienced attorney from a reputable DWI law firm can offer aggressive representation and successfully defend you to highlight mitigating factors and reduce aggravating factors. Additionally, our Raleigh DWI lawyers do everything they can to obtain the lowest possible penalty for the level of DWI determined by the court.

What Are the Consequences of an Underage DWI Conviction?

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 DWI 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.

Common DWI Defenses

Defending against a DWI charge in North Carolina requires a thorough understanding of the law and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. While each case is unique, several common defenses may be employed by your Raleigh DWI lawyer to challenge the prosecution's case. When your defense attorney creates reasonable doubt about the charges against you, the judge, jury, and/or district attorney's office will have to question the legitimacy of the DWI offense.

Challenging the Traffic Stop

If law enforcement did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over, the entire traffic stop may be deemed unlawful. Any evidence obtained following an unlawful stop may be suppressed in court.

Questioning Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)

Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are subjective assessments of coordination and balance. Factors such as nervousness, fatigue, or medical conditions can impact performance. Challenging the administration or interpretation of FSTs can weaken the prosecution's case.

Contesting Breathalyzer Results

Breathalyzer machines must be properly calibrated and operated by trained personnel to produce accurate results. Issues such as improper maintenance, calibration errors, or operator error could lead to unreliable breath test readings, which can be challenged in court.

Questioning Officer Observations

Officers often rely on observations of behavior, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, as evidence of impairment. However, these observations can be subjective and influenced by factors unrelated to intoxication. Challenging the accuracy or reliability of officer testimony can cast doubt on the prosecution's case.

Raising Medical Conditions or External Factors

Certain medical conditions or external factors unrelated to alcohol consumption can mimic signs of impairment. Conditions such as fatigue, allergies, or certain medications can affect physical or cognitive abilities, leading to misconceptions of intoxication.

Asserting Improper Miranda Rights

If law enforcement failed to properly inform you of your Miranda rights during the arrest, any statements made following the arrest may be inadmissible in court. Protecting your rights during the arrest and interrogation process is crucial to ensuring a fair trial.

Demonstrating Rising Blood Alcohol Levels

In some cases, an individual's BAC may continue to rise after they have stopped drinking due to the absorption and metabolization of alcohol. This can result in inaccurately high BAC readings if chemical testing occurs significantly later than the time of driving.

Negotiating for Lesser Charges

In situations where the evidence against you is strong and you agree to plead guilty to DWI in NC, negotiating for reduced charges, such as a reckless driving plea, may be a viable strategy to mitigate the consequences of a DWI conviction.

How Can a Raleigh DWI Lawyer Improve the Outcome of Your Case?

A Raleigh DWI lawyer can provide you with legal representation and guidance throughout the legal process. A DUI lawyer can help you understand the laws and consequences of a DWI conviction and develop a defense strategy to minimize the consequences.

Here are some of the ways a DWI lawyer can help:

  • Investigate the circumstances of your case
  • Challenge the evidence against you
  • Negotiate with the prosecution and Wake County district attorney, Lorrin Freeman, for a plea deal
  • Represent you in court
  • Protect your rights and interests
  • Provide legal advice and guidance
  • Explain the legal process and options available to you
  • Develop a defense strategy to minimize the consequences

Working with a Raleigh DWI Lawyer from the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker

Working with a Raleigh DWI lawyer from the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker ensures compassionate representation and diligent advocacy for your rights. 

Our firm stands out for:

  • Personalized legal strategies tailored to your case
  • Proven track record of successful outcomes
  • Responsive and supportive client communication
  • Thorough understanding of North Carolina DWI laws
  • Dedicated representation from start to finish

Raleigh DWI Frequently Asked Questions

In Wake County, North Carolina, for a DWI (Driving While Impaired) charge, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt two essential elements:

  1. Actual Physical Control: The individual was in actual physical control of the vehicle. This involves proving operation on a public roadway or public vehicular area. Evidence can range from direct observation of driving to circumstantial evidence, such as the car’s engine running or the vehicle’s location at the time of arrest.
  2. Impairment: The individual was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, to the extent of being “appreciably impaired,” or had a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher at a relevant time after driving. This can be demonstrated through chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine tests) or through an officer’s observations, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or poor performance on field sobriety tests.

In addition to these points, Raleigh DWI defense attorneys stress the importance of understanding the levels of DWI offenses and the mitigating and aggravating factors that can influence sentencing. For anyone facing a DWI charge, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable Raleigh DWI lawyer who can navigate the complexities of DWI law and develop a robust defense strategy.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, obtaining a copy of police reports related to your case can be done through the Raleigh Police Department’s Police Records Division. There are specific steps for accessing different types of reports:

Incident Reports

  • Email Request: Send your request to police.records@raleighnc.gov. Include the report number if available and a contact phone number.
  • Call: Dial 919-996-3325 to request the report over the phone.

Crash Reports

  • Online Access: Crash Reports can be viewed and printed online through the Raleigh Police Department’s website.

Criminal History Reports

  • CCBI Requests: For criminal history reports, you need to contact the City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI).

Service Requests

  • Email Request: For general service requests, email the staff at the provided Police Records Division email with details such as your name, email address, phone number, the address or location of the incident, date or date range of service, and the names of any involved persons.

Additional Information

  • Requests can also be made for agencies via email or fax using official letterhead to the Police Records Division.

In North Carolina, whether you’ll face jail time for a DWI conviction depends on the offense’s severity and any aggravating factors. The state categorizes DWI punishments from Level V (least severe) to Level I and Aggravated Level I (most severe), with jail time ranging from a minimum of 24 hours to a maximum of 36 months for the most serious offenses. Factors such as a high BAC, reckless driving, or previous DWI convictions can increase the level of punishment and the likelihood of jail time. All DWI convictions require substance abuse assessment and treatment, and penalties become harsher with repeat offenses. Consulting with a DWI defense attorney is crucial for navigating the legal implications and seeking the best outcome.


A DWI conviction will follow you for years and can include time in jail, hefty fines, and an inability to find employment or even rent an apartment. You have the constitutional right to legal representation in your case. A Raleigh DWI lawyer will fight charges for criminal offenses including DWI 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 to help you move forward with your life. At the Law Offices of  J.M. Kotzker, P.C., our Raleigh DWI lawyers are committed to providing the best defense to our clients and have successfully represented thousands of clients throughout Wake County.

To schedule a free consultation and case review, schedule an appointment today by calling us  919-439-5104 or by filling out our contact form below.

Contact The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker Today

We have over 30 years of experience defending Raleigh residents against all types of traffic and criminal offenses.

We know the law and we will use our knowledge to defend your driving record, fight for your rights, and work to get your ticket or criminal case reduced or dismissed completely.

Call us at  919-439-5104 or fill out the form to contact us now for immediate help.