DWI / DUI
Wilmington DWI/DUI attorneys serving New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick Counties in North Carolina
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous and could jeopardize the lives of innocent people. This type of behavior should be avoided at all costs. However, people do make mistakes and deserve a zealous representation during the undoubtedly trying time of being arrested for “driving while impaired” as it’s called in North Carolina (DWI). At Girdwood & Williams, we understand that unfortunate things happen to good people and we will fight for you.
What is a Civil Revocation?
If you are charged with Driving While Impaired related to alcohol, odds are you will also receive an automatic 30 day suspension of your North Carolina driving privileges known as a civil revocation. This suspension begins the day you are arrested and law enforcement will take your driver’s license. At the end of the 30 day period, your license will be reinstated upon your paying a $100 fee to the clerk of court. You may drive without restrictions once your privileges are restored. You do have a right to hearing to contest a civil revocation provided that the request is filed within 10 days of the revocation. You also have the right to a limited driving privilege to drive to work and maintain your household during this 30 day civil revocation period at the expiration of a 10 day waiting period. It is very important to speak with an attorney about your options as you do not want to drive during this civil revocation period without a valid license or limited privilege.
What is the punishment for DWI in North Carolina?
Most driving while impaired charges in North Carolina are misdemeanor offenses. Under narrowly limited circumstances, a DWI could be elevated to a felony offense. There are six misdemeanor sentencing levels ranging from aggravated level 1 to level 5. Aggravated level 1 is the highest sentencing level and carries up to 36 months in prison. Level 5 is the lowest sentencing level and carries up to 60 days in jail. The punishments can also include loss of license, court costs, fines, community service and alcohol treatment. In many cases, jail sentences can be suspended for a probationary judgment.
Reasonable Suspicion for a DWI/DUI Traffic Stop
The 4th Amendment protects you from having your vehicle pulled over by law enforcement for no reason at all. In order to stop your vehicle, a law enforcement officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been committed. The officer must have observed the driver speeding, weaving, or exhibiting some other type of reckless or suspicious behavior before he or she has the right to stop the vehicle. In fact, some North Carolina courts have held that weaving, by itself, is not a sufficient reason to pull a driver over.
Probable Cause for a DWI/DUI Arrest
Just because a law enforcement officer has a reason to stop your car, does not mean he can automatically arrest you on the suspicion of drunk driving. He or she must have “probable cause” to arrest you. Probable cause means sufficient evidence that the average officer can reasonably infer that a person has committed a crime. Most officers are trained in standardized field sobriety tests to assist them with acquiring probable cause. Standardized field sobriety tests include an alcosensor breath test, one leg stand, walk and turn, and a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Officers use these tests, along with statements made by the driver as well as the officer’s observations of bad driving and physical appearance to gather probable cause.
The Right to Remain Silent
Individuals who are pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving or any criminal offense have the right to remain silent. Our lawyers advise that they provide police officers with only their name, identification, and registration. Individuals pulled over on suspicion of DWI/DUI have the right to politely decline answering any other questions or providing any other information, although they can be required to submit to blood or breath tests. Although we encourage you not to say or do anything to incriminate yourself, it is important to remember to always be polite and respectful to law enforcement.
What Our Clients Say
Contact us today for help with your DWI
A DWI arrest can have serious consequences on your life and as such, it is important that you protect all the rights afforded to you. If you’ve been accused of impaired driving, call us today at 910-343-9920 or fill out the form on our contact page. While based in Wilmington, we represent DWI clients in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties. Our DWI/DUI attorneys can help ensure that your rights are protected and that your freedom is preserved. You’ll feel better when you can tell them, “I’ve got Girdwood & Williams!“
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