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DWI in NC: Hiring a Charlotte DUI Attorney

By: North Carolina DWI Lawyer Bill Powers

The defense of people facing a DWI charge in Charlotte NC is one of our most challenging and important areas of legal practice. Offering aggressive criminal defense for those charged with drunk driving or drugged driving is a major focus of the criminal attorneys at Carolina Attorneys (CarolinaAttorneys.com / the Powers Law Firm PA). Our law firm helps people facing misdemeanor or felony traffic charges, by providing sound legal advice.

Our law firm's lawyers in Charlotte are here to help you and not to judge you. Stop to think about the fact that a violation of NC DWI laws is a crime of degree. By that our DWI lawyers mean adults can drink alcohol and be perfectly legal. However, at some point, one extra drink can make your conduct a crime in the Tar Heel state.

The knowledge, experience, and training of your DWI attorney are extremely important. We believe choosing a courtroom-tested North Carolina DUI attorney from the lawyers near me is more important than law office location. Traffic violations can boost car insurance rates and block future job opportunities. Hiring a criminal defense attorney for an operating while intoxicated case may be one of the more crucial decisions that many citizens make about their future.

Arrested for Driving While Intoxicated in Charlotte North Carolina

Before making a quick judgment about the DWI lawyers near me and whom to retain, consider the following:

  • DWI cases are complicated and the fact patterns are intricate
  • DWI penalties in NC can be harsh
  • A substantial level of public disdain exists for the offense of DUI-DWI Impaired Driving, especially since rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are now available in a wide geographic area.

The possibility of Jail time rapidly increases as the number of prior D.W.I. convictions and factors leading to more severe mandatory sentencing are considered. The existence of any “grossly aggravating factor” is a big deal. North Carolina criminal laws call for even a first offense DUI to receive active jail time if a Grossly Aggravating Factor is proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. **Each case is different. Speak to an experienced Charlotte lawyer about your case and any/all legal options available if arrested for DWI.

What's the DUI Meaning, and DUI vs. DWI?

Different states' laws shorten the usual phrases for impaired driving to an acronym. So, “drunken driving” in Maine is OUI, and OVI in Ohio. OWI is Michigan's chosen name of their driving under the influence crime. Oregon alone uses DUII, and Wyoming stands alone using DWUI.

DWI is used in North Carolina, but almost all other southeastern states (SC, GA, AL, MS, TN, VA) utilize DUI, the most common abbreviation in the USA. The second most prevalent abbreviation in America is DWI. Texas, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and a couple of other states share the driving impaired acronym DWI.

A couple of jurisdictions north of our state (MD, DC) DWI use both acronyms. DWI means driving while impaired (by drugs, alcohol, or some unknown substance), while D.U.I. translates to “driving under the influence” of alcohol. DUI in North Carolina, “driving under the influence” is still technically recognized under the criminal laws. “Driving under the influence” of an impairing substance can be an aspect of DWI in NC or “driving while impaired.” Being “impaired” may include being under the influence of alcohol. You can also be impaired by legal and illegal drugs.

A DUI Attorney Charlotte From Our Firm Will Investigate the Circumstances Behind Your Traffic Stop

For some reason, you were stopped by the police while driving. Law enforcement agents are expected to be able to state what that reason for the traffic stop was. Were you weaving unsafely between lanes?

Did you roll through a stop sign? Or did you simply have a “look” about you that made a police officer suspect you as a possible impaired driver?

When we defend people charged with DWI in North Carolina, a Charlotte DUI lawyer from our office will insist that the State of North Carolina meet its full burden of proving that there was a justifiable reason – not just a pretext – for the traffic stop. That may involve an inquiry into whether there was reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop, depending on the nature and circumstances of the arrest.

Our DWI Defense Team Examines All Procedures and Screening in the NC DWI Arrest

In support of DWI criminal charges, a North Carolina police officer collects various types of evidence. Challenging the arrest is not only a matter of challenging field sobriety tests such as the breath test, or field sobriety tests designed to measure coordination. Other aspects of the arrest are worthy of investigation – including an examination into what you were told, and when. That may necessitate reviewing BWC or “body worn camera” footage and/or a dash cam of the DWI charges in Charlotte. NOT every jurisdiction in North Carolina has body camera or dash cam footage.

Beyond Probable Case and Reasonable Suspicion to Stop You, Were You Over the Legal Limit?

As attorney with more than 27 years of experience, NC DWI defense lawyer Bill Powers can examine the accuracy of “breathalyzer” or Intoximeter EC/IR II results as well as coordination tests and radar guns.

How Punishment for a DWI Conviction Ramps up Quickly in Some DWI NC Cases

First, remember that an arrest is not a conviction. That being stated, any conviction of driving impaired in NC will be followed by sentencing by your trial judge.

The sentencing hearing is conducted at which the district attorney and the defendant's legal counsel are permitted to introduce evidence of aggravation (the DA argues these factors) or mitigation (the criminal defense attorney argues these beneficial points). Based on receiving evidence of the “good and the bad” factors, the judge will sentence the DWI offender under one of six (6) levels of severity. As part of the DWI sentencing hearing, a judge will assign the jail term, if any, the monetary fines to be paid, and other DUI penalties, based upon each level’s parameters under the law.

What Are Aggravating Factors?

Aggravating” circumstances for a client may include things like:

  • engaging in reckless driving
  • causing a motor vehicle wreck
  • trying to evade arrest or elude police
  • high speed over the posted limit
  • passing a stopped school bus that is discharging or picking up students
What Are Grossly Aggravating Factors?

“Grossly aggravating” factors include an accident causing serious injury to others, driving while already being revoked for a DWI-DUI-OWI, and/or driving with a minor passenger during the commission of the DWI. A prior DUI-DWI-OUI (from any jurisdiction) within the last seven (7) years is also a grossly aggravating factor.

What Type of Mitigating Factors May Persuade a Judge to Minimize Punishments And/Or Jail Time, If Any?

In an alcohol-based case, the attorney for the driver may be able to present evidence of a relatively low blood alcohol level (0.09% or lower). In a DWI-drugs conviction case, the DUI defense lawyer can put in evidence proof that the impairing drug found in the blood testing was lawfully prescribed. Safe driving and a safe driving record may also be considered by the Court during the sentencing hearing.

In some cases, our clients are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or was only pulled over due to a missing taillight. When the driving conduct is not patently dangerous or outrageous, a sentencing judge may conclude your case deserves a statutory minimum sentence.

Creative and experienced DWI attorneys know to prepare for a possible day of reckoning. Such advanced planning as having a client undergo a substance abuse or mental health screening is one possibility. Placing a client on some sort of random, constant or intermittent sobriety monitoring via an alcohol detection system may help.

Plus, when the client’s case justifies aggressive steps being taken, obtaining alcohol or drug treatment or AA and NA meetings prior to sentencing can create acceptable mitigating factors.

What Is the Legal Limit in North Carolina for DWI Charges?

Many DWI charges include evidence of a “BAC” or Blood Alcohol Concentration. Often referred to as the breathalyzer results, the Intoximeter EC/IR II is the primary breath testing machine for DWI charges in North Carolina. The “legal limit” is technically 0.079, in that a BAC of .08 or higher, at any relevant time after driving, can be deemed “sufficient evidence” for a conviction of DWI charges in North Carolina.

What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI in North Carolina?

North Carolina General Statute 20-138.1 defines “Impaired Driving.” The statute does not specifically rely on terms “DWI” and “DUI.” One may be convicted of “impaired driving” if they are under the influence of an impairing substance, have a BAC of 0.08 or higher, or have any amount of a Schedule I drug or it’s metabolites in his or her urine or blood. DWI ordinarily stands for Driving While Impaired. DUI or Driving Under the Influence often relates to impairment by alcohol. There is no practical distinction under the law.

What Are Sobriety Tests?

Evidence in DWI charges in North Carolina may include breath tests, blood tests, SFSTs – Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Basic Law Enforcement Training or “BLET” includes the detection of impaired motorists. DWI field tests are largely controlled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) “dexterity tests” and common include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the One Leg Stand, and the Walk and Turn (Heel to Toe).

Can I Refuse to Blow?

The “implied consent” law in North Carolina authorizes NC DMV to immediately revoke your driver’s license for a willful refusal to blow after being properly charge with impaired driving. Refusing to blow is not a criminal charge in North Carolina and must be supported by sufficient probable cause. The handheld, roadside device is not subject to the implied consent laws. Failure to blow into the AlcoSensor does not result in a revocation or suspension of your license.

Helpful Information About Criminal Charges
Free DUI/DWI Reference Guide
Client Reviews
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together... J.R.
Bill Powers and his firm were a true blessing. If anyone is contacting an attorney, it's more than likely not from a positive life experience. If there was a rating for "bedside manner" for lawyers he'd get a 10/10 for that as well. The entire staff were helpful... K.C.
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.