Being pulled over for a DWI can be a frightening experience. In North Carolina, a police officer can stop you from driving under the influence if they have reasonable belief or suspicion. So, what should you do if you get pulled over for a DWI?
A DWI charge can have serious consequences, including loss of driving privileges and jail time. This is why it is important to handle the situation with care and respond cautiously.
At The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, our DWI attorneys have successfully represented clients against DWI charges. We’re sharing how to respond and react in the case that you are pulled over for a DWI.
What Is The DWI Law In North Carolina?
In North Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This is the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) in most states.
If you are stopped by police and found to have a BAC above the legal limit, you will be arrested and charged with drunk driving. You will also have your driver’s license suspended for at least 30 days.
If convicted, you will face penalties such as fines, jail time, and mandatory alcohol education classes.
In addition, your insurance rates will increase and you will have a permanent criminal record.
If you are convicted of drunk driving more than once, you will face even harsher penalties.
What Is The Difference Between DUI And DWI?
Often DWI and DUI are used interchangeably, but they do have some differences in North Carolina.
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are both terms used to describe the crime of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
In North Carolina, DWI is generally used to refer to alcohol-impaired driving, while DUI is used to refer to drug-impaired driving. However, both offenses are treated similarly under state law.
When Can A Police Officer Pull You Over For a DWI?
An officer can pull you over if they have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence.
They can base these suspicions on several factors:
- Reckless driving
- Over speeding
- Ignoring traffic lights
- Swerving out of your lane
Oftentimes, suspicion of driving while intoxicated doesn’t come until after the police officer pulls you over. They may notice the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes.
What Should You Do When A Police Officer Stops You For DWI?
Pull Over Safely
Noticing those flashing blue lights of the police car behind you can be scary. But it is highly important to remain calm as panicking will only make you react worse.
Calmly slow your car down and find a safe place to pull over. Since the officer is already suspicious of your actions, you don’t want to give them more reasons to later be stated in a police report.
No Sudden or Suspicious Movements
Police officers are trained to be on their guard as they approach a car. Your job is not to react strangely or suspiciously. Keep your hands in sight on the steering wheel where they can see them.
Keep Your Documents Accessible
An officer will most likely ask for your license and registration as soon as they approach your car window. Your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance should be easily accessible. Fumbling in the glove apartment is only going to raise more red flags.
Irrational or harsh behavior will only make things worse and automatically lose you points with the officer. Speak respectfully and refrain from being rude or hostile. If the officer asks you to step out of the car, comply readily.
Refrain From Making Any Potentially Incriminating Statements
While it is important to behave politely and comply with the police officer’s requests, you are well within your rights to refuse from making any potentially incriminating statements. Of course, you should not lie, but you also shouldn’t go out of the way to make a statement that will later get you into trouble in court. You also have the right to remain silent, and everything that you say can later be used against you in a DWI investigation. Watch what you say to avoid legal consequences.
Refuse Field Sobriety Test
Officers can use field sobriety tests to prove they had cause for arresting a person for DWI. However, it is entirely legal to decline a field sobriety test. This test typically comprises the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. Officers often fail to ask if you have a disability that would impair you in this test. Even under normal conditions, this test would be difficult to clear.
Refuse The Portable Breath Test
You are under no obligation to consent to a portable breathing test or any other roadside sobriety test. The roadside breathalyzer test is known to have unreliable test results and can easily be skewed. Refusing to take the PBT will result in a suspension of your license, but will give you the chance to prove your case later at the police station.
Take Chemical Test at Police Station
Once taken to the police station, you’ll be able to take either a blood or breath test. These will measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood or breath sample.
Make Detailed Notes
Once you are released from the police station, make sure to note down everything you remember from the incident. With the incident fresh in your mind, you’ll be able to remember more details and have more evidence that can be used to build your case.
Contact a DWI Attorney
Building a strong case against a DWI can be difficult. An experienced attorney who has fought similar cases in the past can help you gather evidence and build a strong case. Find a qualified DWI defense attorney who can plead your case and help you get your driving privileges back.
Have You Been Convicted Of a DWI? Contact Our Team Today!
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. You have the Constitutional right to legal representation in your case, and we will fight on your behalf. 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. Call us today at [phone].