Driving While Under the Influence (DWI) FAQs

If you have been charged with driving while under the influence (DWI), you likely have questions about the criminal process. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC , we have represented many clients with DWI charges. We work quickly and aggressively to defend the rights of our clients. Arnold & Smith, PLLC has created a list of frequently asked questions to help defendants facing DWI charges to understand the criminal process.

What Constitutes a DWI in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a DWI can occur in the following cases:

  • Defendants fail a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer test. The test must show a blood alcohol (BAC) level of .08% or higher.
  • Driving with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or its metabolites in his or her urine or blood.
  • A driver under the age of 21 has any amount of drugs or alcohol in his or her system
  • A driver operating a commercial vehicle has a blood concentration of .04% or more
  • The suspect shows appreciable impairment while driving. Prosecutors can secure a conviction when a suspect appears intoxicated, drives recklessly fail a field sobriety test, or there are other conditions that indicate alcohol impairment.
Can I Receive a DWI Conviction if I Never Submitted to a Blood Test?

Yes, in North Carolina, a defendant can be convicted of DWI without a chemical test indicating a BAC of .08% or higher. However, prosecutors have a more difficult time proving a DWI happened without the evidence of a chemical blood test. Our skilled DWI defense lawyers are trial-ready. We know how to poke holes in the prosecution’s narrative throughout the trial process.

When can Law Enforcement Lawfully Stop My Car?

North Carolina law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a crime in order to legally pull the driver over. After police officers have pulled a suspect over, they must have probable cause of a DWI before they can lawfully arrest the defendant.

When investigating a case, our lawyers examine evidence of the arrest in an attempt to have the case dismissed or prove the defendant’s innocence. We examine the notes of law enforcement officers, videos from the police stop, and witness statements. Examining all of the evidence helps us determine whether or not the police officer had a reasonable suspicion to pull the defendant over. When the police did not have a reasonable suspicion, a judge may throw out the case due to constitutional violations.

Can I get My Charlotte DWI Charge Reduced to a Reckless Driving Charge?

North Carolina laws are more serious when it comes to DWI charges than they were in years past. Most Charlotte prosecutors are not willing to reduce a DWI charge to a reckless driving charge. Judges and North Carolina officials have put pressure on district attorneys’ offices to prosecute DWI cases. However, the defendant can still fight for a dismissal of the charges altogether. A judge will dismiss the charges when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to proceed.

Do I Have to Submit to Chemical DWI Tests?

Yes, North Carolina is an implied consent state. When drivers choose to drive on North Carolina roads, they give their implied consent to chemical tests for driving while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. When a driver refuses to provide a blood or breath sample, your DWI case becomes labeled as a refusal.

A refusal triggers an automatic 12-month revocation of North Carolina driving privileges. The revocation will happen whether or not the defendant wins or loses the DWI case. However, six months after the DWI case becomes resolved, the driver can apply for a limited driving privilege. When granted, the defendant can drive under limited conditions for the remaining six months.

What are the Penalties for DWI in North Carolina?

DWI penalties depend on several different factors, such as whether or not this is the defendant’s first DWI charge. Courts also look at aggravating factors, grossly aggravating factors, and mitigating factors when determining the sentence. Aggravating factors increase the severity of the sentencing. Mitigating factors decrease the severity of the sentence. Penalties can include jail time, mandatory drug or alcohol treatment, community service, fees, and the placement of an Ignition Device on the vehicle.

Our DWI Defense Lawyers can Help

If you are facing DWI charges in North Carolina, our DWI lawyers can give you an assertive and skilled legal defense. Contact our Charlotte DWI defense law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.