Driving While Impaired (DWI)
Getting charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) in North Carolina can lead to some very profound consequences, from loss of driving privileges for an initial thirty days up to one year, to fines and insurance rate hikes, depending on the circumstances.
There are six levels of misdemeanor DWI in North Carolina: 5 (lowest level) through 1, and Aggravated Level 1 (most serious). When an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle to investigate DWI, you will immediately be faced with choices, when you are the least prepared to make them, from submitting or refusing to standardized field sobriety tests to consenting to a breath test, to calling a witness to observe the test, or refusing to take the test. Even if you refuse to provide a breath sample, an officer may choose to get a search warrant for your blood. Refusal will lead to an automatic revocation of your license for a period of one year. Each decision you make will impact how your case is handled in the criminal court system, and the options you have when it comes to fighting your case.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial, a judge will determine the sentencing level, and the punishment that will be imposed by weighing aggravating and mitigating factors. While limited driving privileges may be available after a conviction to allow you to drive to work or church, people that blow .15 or higher may be subject to additional consequences, such as the requirement for installation of an ignition interlock. Each DWI stop is different and it is crucial that you have an attorney representing you every step of the way.