Raleigh Skyline

DWI Lawyer Cost And The Overall DWI Cost In NC

Getting arrested for a DWI in North Carolina is a serious offense that can result in life-altering consequences. Having a DWI lawyer on your side to walk you through the process can help explain the charges against you and avoid extreme penalties.

At The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, we can explain the process and help you face your DWI offense. As we look at DWI in North Carolina, we'll explain DWI lawyer cost as well as the other factors that can play a role in your case.

What is a DWI?

The term DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. It is often used interchangeably with DUI (driving under the influence), but there are some key differences between the two.

A DWI in North Carolina is a criminal offense that involves operating a motor vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol.

If law enforcement officers pull you over because they suspect you're impaired, you may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test or a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol level (BAC). If you refuse to do either one, you can be automatically charged with a DWI.

In North Carolina, the legal limit for a DWI is a BAC of 0.08%. If a person's blood alcohol level is above this limit, they will face a DWI charge. If a person's BAC is below this limit, they can still be charged if the officer believes that their ability to drive has been impaired.

How is a DUI Charge Different from a DWI?

The main difference between DUI and DWI is that DUI is a misdemeanor charge, while DWI is a felony. This means that the penalties for each are different. DUI refers to drinking any amount of alcohol or being under the influence of drugs or both. DWI refers to drinking and driving.

The legal limit for a DUI is still a BAC of 0.08%. To be convicted of DUI, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was impaired by alcohol or drugs while behind the wheel. This can be done by showing the BAC was above the legal limit, or that the driver was so impaired they couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle.

In the case of both DWI and DUI, charges can result in a criminal record and the requirement of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The Cost Of A DWI In North Carolina

The cost of a DWI in North Carolina can add up when you factor in lawyer fees, court fees, bond, and many more areas.

From the moments after arrest, people begin to see the costs of a DWI arrest add up. The first cost comes with bond money that is required to avoid jail time.

Costs After the Arrest

Once you are arrested and charged, you will have your license revoked for 30 days. Under most circumstances, you are eligible for pretrial limited driving privileges after 10 days of being charged. To be eligible, you must complete a substance abuse assessment which usually costs around $100. You will also have to pay $100 to the court for the limited driving privilege.

When you have this privilege, you can drive for the remainder of the 30 days of your civil revocation. Once the 30 days are over, you are eligible to get your driver's license back, after paying another $100 to the court.

You will also have to complete a substance abuse assessment that will also cost $100. You'll need a certified copy of your driving record which will cost around $15.

You also have to factor in attorney fees if you decide to hire a criminal defense lawyer. The fees will vary depending on the attorney you choose.

If your charges are dismissed, you shouldn't have to pay more. But, if you go to court for your drunk driving, it will be more expensive.

DWI Fines

You also need to think about fines when you're talking about DWI costs. DWI penalties will depend on several factors including any prior offenses and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. DWI fines can range anywhere from $200 to as much as $10,000 in fines.

Your first DWI offense is not going to carry as much of a penalty as a subsequent arrest. However, a DWI that involves a minor in the vehicle will carry a heavier penalty.

Court Fees for DWI Offenses

Court costs will vary. But since DWI is a criminal charge, you have to appear before the judge, no matter your plea. Once you appear in court the first time, the judge will determine the rest of the court fees.

When it comes to court costs, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100-$4,000. Your attorney will be able to better break down the cost for you.

DWI Lawyer Cost

Lawyer fees are also going to vary depending on who you hire and how serious your case is. It will also depend on how many times you have to appear in court. A reasonable attorney should charge roughly $2,500.

How Can Hiring A DWI Attorney Lower The Cost Of A DWI

While hiring a lawyer will cost money, it can help to lower the overall cost of the charge you're facing. A lawyer that is familiar with the DWI laws and DWI cases can see how the circumstances can better your outcome.

A lawyer will look at important information about your case such as police reports, audio or video recordings, and any types of tests that were done (blood, urine, breathalyzer test) and use this information to build a defense to better your case results.

These pieces of information can be crucial to getting your case to the lowest offense level. Getting the DWI charges dropped will eliminate expensive court fees and can have less of an impact on your insurance policy.

Other Sentencing Costs

There are costs to consider if you are convicted and sentenced on your DWI charge. You will most likely have to take drug and alcohol classes to either complete probation or get your license back. Usually, these classes can be completed with a 16-hour in-person program that cost around $200.

In most DWI cases in North Carolina, an ignition interlock device needs to be installed if a person has more than one DWI on their record or had a BAC of over .15 on their breathalyzer test. The installation fee for one of these systems is around $70-$200, depending on the company that is installing it. After the installation, the driver will be required to pay a maintenance fee that could be as much as $60 per month.  

If you are placed on probation, that will also cost you money. The cost is generally between $1000-$2000. Also, if you're sentenced to community service, you'll have to pay a $250 fee.

Civil Damages and DWI

If you were involved in an accident that injured someone or damaged their property, you may be sued for the property value or the person's injuries. This can carry the costs of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Driving Privileges with a DWI Conviction

If you are convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, you will lose your driving privileges for a year or more, depending on the severity of the offense. This can make it difficult to get to work and fulfill other responsibilities. Reinstating your driving privileges after losing them for a DWI is going to cost you a $100 reinstatement fee at the DMV.

Car Insurance and DWI

A DWI conviction will impact your insurance premiums greatly. Once the insurance premium increases, it will stay inflated for the three or more years. In some cases, you could be paying $700 per month more compared to a person with a clean record. When the premium decrease will depend on the insurance company.

So, How Much Is A DWI In NC?

When you factor in all of the costs of a DWI conviction, it's safe to say it will not be cheap. Here's a quick summary of the charges. Remember, these amounts are current costs and estimates and can always increase.

  • Substance Abuse Assessment: $100
  • Limited Driving Privilege: $100
  • Experienced DWI Attorney: $2500
  • Drug Education Traffic School: $150–$200
  • Community Service Fee: $250
  • DWI Fine: $190
  • Overall Court Fee: Anywhere between $100–$4,000
  • Blood Alcohol Content Test: $600
  • License Restoration Fee: $100
  • Interlock Device: $150 + maintenance
  • Attorney's Fees: $2,500

Estimated DWI Cost: $6,500 - $10,000

These fees will vary from case to case and depend on variables like past convictions, criminal record, driving record, and overall alcohol assessment.

Contact The Law Offices Of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., And Talk To An Experienced North Carolina DWI Lawyer Today

If you are facing a DWI charge and want formal legal advice, call the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C. for a free consultation. Let our attorneys look at your DWI case and give you the advice you need. Our DWI lawyers have the legal system experience to guide you in the right direction.

Call us today at (919) 439-5104 or fill out the form below so we can review your case and guide you in the right direction.