First-Time DWI Charge - Defense Lawyers in North Carolina

If you are facing a first-time driving while impaired (DWI) charge in North Carolina, you are probably concerned about your future. The consequences of a DWI conviction are significant. Convicted defendants face potential fines, prison sentences, and restrictions on their driver’s licenses. Throughout the process, you will likely be wondering how a DWI conviction will affect your career. You are also probably worried about whether or not you will lose your driver’s license which in turn could affect your ability to get to work or handle the responsibilities of daily life.

If you are facing a first-time DWI charge in North Carolina, our lawyers can help. We fight aggressively on behalf of our clients to mount an effective DWI defense. Our clients feel a sense of relief when we take over their cases because they know that our experienced attorneys are available to discuss the case and are taking care of them throughout the process. Our lawyers have many years of experience fighting DWI charges in North Carolina. Contact our DWI defense law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation.

DWI Laws in North Carolina

If you are a first-time DWI defendant, you may not be familiar with North Carolina’s DWI laws. Under North Carolina criminal law, a defendant is guilty of some variation of driving while impaired when he or she drives a vehicle while doing any one or more of the following:

  • Driving while under the influence of some impairing substance
  • Driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more
  • Driving with a blood-alcohol level of .04 or more for those driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the stop
  • Driving by someone under the age of 21 while he or she has remaining in his or her body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed
  • Driving with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the bloodstream
DWI Testing in North Carolina

In order to be convicted of DWI, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was driving a vehicle upon any highway, street or public vehicular area while under the influence of some impairing substance so that his or her mental an/or physical faculties are impaired. Before law enforcement officials can stop a person who is driving, they must have a reasonably articulable suspicion to do so. Before law enforcement officials can arrest a person for DWI, they must have probable cause to do so. When law enforcement officials do not have the requisite reasonably articulable suspicion or probable cause, they are in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights and the judge can potentially throw out the evidence gathered following the unconstitutional stop or arrest.

Similarly, when law enforcement officers do not engage in DWI testing in a constitutional manner, the evidence could potentially be thrown out. Whether you are dealing with your first DWI offense in North Carolina or you have had multiple DWI charges, law enforcement will likely ask you to submit to tests to help determine your level of impairment.

Some of the best DWI defenses involve challenging the validity of DWI testing. For example, defendants have a right to refuse standardized field sobriety tests. If a law enforcement officer pulls you over for a DWI, they may ask you to submit to one or more of the following tests:

  • The one leg stand test
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test
  • The walk-and-turn test

Law enforcement officers cannot force suspects to take the tests listed above. An individual does not lose their license for refusing to perform roadside tests. Moreover, on many occasions the investigating officer will not perform the testing in the authorized manner. The results of the field sobriety tests can often be critical evidence that the State will use in an attempt to justify the arrest and subsequent prosecution of an individual for DWI.

Chemical Tests for the First-Time DWI Defendant

In order to determine your blood alcohol content, law enforcement may have asked you to submit to a post-arrest breath or blood test. Suspects who refuse to submit to a breath or blood test face a possible one-year driver’s license revocation. When suspects refuse a breath or blood test, law enforcement will usually seek a search warrant in order to draw your blood. The blood is usually sent to a local lab for testing. The search warrant, the blood draw and the testing must be performed in a constitutionally satisfactory way or risk a judge throwing out the evidence.

Penalties for a First-Time DWI Conviction

An individual’s sentencing level under North Carolina law is based upon three things: mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors. Mitigating factors can reduce the defendant’s sentence. Mitigating factors include such things as a statutory safe driving record or completion of a substance abuse assessment. Aggravating and grossly aggravating factors can significantly increase a defendant’s sentence. The penalties for a DWI in North Carolina can range as high as three years in jail with no possibility of parole, along with fines of up to $10,000 and court costs.

Our First Offense DWI Lawyers can Help

If you are facing a first-time DWI in North Carolina, our experienced DWI defense lawyers can help. Contact our criminal defense law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.