What is Driving While Impaired (DWI)?

In North Carolina, Driving While Impaired (DWI) is the formal name for the charge for driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. While it is sometimes referred to as DUI, the formal charge is DWI.

What are Field Sobriety tests:

Field sobriety tests, sometimes called roadside sobriety tests, are used to enforce DUI laws and usually precede Breathalyzer tests. A police officer typically performs a three-part field sobriety test after a traffic stop where there is a suspicion that the motorist may be drunk or otherwise impaired. These tests allow an officer to observe a suspect’s balance, physical ability, attention level, or other factors that the officer may use to determine whether the suspect is driving under the influence.

Officers record the suspect’s performance on a field sobriety test to be used as evidence in DUI cases; such tests generally have been upheld on appeal. The purpose of all sobriety tests is to ensure that a police officer has probable cause to arrest someone for driving under the influence.

For a better understanding of Field Sobriety Tests speak to a Lawyer,  in Alamance County, call John Cox Law at (336) 221-9292.

(source: Find Law- Field Sobriety Tests)

 

Can a driver refuse to take a test?

If the driver refuses the test, an immediate 30-day revocation is imposed and an additional one-year revocation is imposed after an opportunity for a hearing. Even if the driver is found not guilty of DWI in court, the one-year revocation is imposed for refusing the test. A limited driving privilege may be granted but only after a six-month revocation period.

(source:  North Carolina Department of Public Safety)

There are five levels of misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated. Level I is the most serious and Level V the least.

 

Level V

Punishable by a fine up to $200 and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.

Level IV

Punishable by a fine up to $500 and a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 48 hours in jail, perform 48 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 60 days.

Level III

Punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of six months. A judge can suspend the sentence only upon completion that the driver spend at least 72 hours in jail, perform 72 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 90 days.

Level II

Punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum of one year. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.

Level I

Punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of two years. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.

Level I and II drivers are repeat offenders, persons whose licenses are revoked, impaired drivers, impaired drivers who are transporting young children and impaired drivers who hurt someone in a crash. Impaired drivers must complete a substance abuse assessment and comply with any recommended treatment as a condition for having their driver’s license restored at the end of the revocation period.

Felony DWI

For Habitual DWI offenders, drivers who have had three prior DWI convictions within the past seven years, DWI becomes a more severe felony. But more importantly, the Habitual DWI statute now mandates a minimum active jail term of one year — a sentence that CANNOT be suspended. Offenders must also go through a substance abuse program while in jail or as a condition of parole.

(source:  North Carolina Department of Public Safety)

Should you hire an attorney to help with your DWI case?

If handled incorrectly, a DWI charge will make you lose your license, get you a fine and possibly give you jail time; don’t take that risk. By hiring an experienced attorney, you will save time, money and prevent the frustrations of trying to handle a serious issue on your own.  In Alamance County, DWI Attorney John Cox has handled hundreds of DUI cases, he is familiar with the laws of North Carolina and the procedures of the District Attorney’s office in Alamance County.  Call John Cox Law at (336) 221-9292.

 

Other DWI/DUI resources:

Charlotte Observer: Here’s what you need to know about drunk driving in the Carolinas.
Find Law: North Carolina DWI Laws
Department of Public Safety
Find Law- Field Sobriety Tests
Find Law- DUI Charges

 

 

DWI laws in North Carolina are some of the strictest in the U.S.

North Carolina has some of the strictest drinking and driving laws ever adopted in the U.S. Known collectively as “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), motorists who violate the statute face severe penalties.  Always designate a driver if you have drinking, or use a taxi or call a sober friend or family member for a ride.  (source: FINDLAW.com)

DUI Tickets Issued Annually

In an average year, over one million drivers will be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (source: FINDLAW.com).

 

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