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Frequently Asked Questions About DUI Charges in Lincolnton NC
In North Carolina, DUI/DWI is formally referred to as Impaired Driving. Proof of impaired driving may include chemical analysis to determine a BAC - Blood Alcohol Concentration and/or the presence of an impairing substance. The legal standard requires only appreciable Impairment. A conviction for a DUI charge in North Carolina can result in penalties such as loss of your driver's license, fines, probation, costs of court, community service, and jail in certain circumstances.
The NC DWI law (N.C.G.S. 20-138.1) does not specifically reference the acronyms DUI and DWI. North Carolina uses the comprehensive term "impaired driving" to address any instance of operating a vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance, and/or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher and/or with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your blood or urine at any relevant time after operating a vehicle on any street, any highway, or any public vehicular area. Impaired driving pertains to appreciable impairment brought on by alcohol and/or drugs, including prescription medications.
Hiring a DUI lawyer is recommended if you have been charged with DUI in Lincolnton NC. A DUI lawyer can help you understand the charges against you, explain the possible consequences of a conviction, and develop a strategy to address the allegation of impaired driving.
In North Carolina, impaired driving is ordinarily a misdemeanor. However, Habitual Driving While Impaired is a felony. Impaired driving can also serve as a predicate offense for other, more serious felony charges, such as Felony Death by Vehicle, Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle, Involuntary Manslaughter, and Second-Degree Murder.
The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor A1 - Aggravated Level DWI is up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. For all impaired driving convictions in North Carolina, your license will be suspended, and additional penalties may be imposed depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense. Some impaired driving charges may be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege, subject to the NC DWI laws and the discretion of the Court (the Judge).
In North Carolina, DUI assessments (substance abuse assessments) are required for all convictions of impaired driving and to obtain a Limited Driving Privilege (hardship license). The purpose of a DUI assessment is to determine whether someone has an alcohol and/or drug problem (substance abuse handicap) that may necessitate education and/or treatment.
The DL-123 form is formally known as a DRIVER LICENSE LIABILITY INSURANCE CERTIFICATION that is completed by an insurance company. The DL-123 verifies an active auto liability insurance policy is in effect and is valid for 30 days.
The best time to hire a DUI lawyer is as soon as possible after being charged with a DUI in North Carolina. This allows the lawyer to gather evidence and begin working on a defense strategy. Important motions may be required to be filed in a timely manner.
A DUI lawyer can help by reviewing the evidence against you, determining whether the police had probable cause to arrest, and exploring possible defenses. Additionally, a DUI lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf (particularly regarding related criminal charges and infractions) and represent you in a trial, as may be appropriate.
Your driver's license will be revoked, for a minimum one-year period, if you are convicted of impaired driving in North Carolina. However, a DUI lawyer may be able to help you obtain limited driving privileges (hardship license), subject to the NC DWI Limited Privilege laws and the discretion of the Court (the Judge).
An ignition interlock device (IID) or "blow-and-go" is an electronic breath testing unit that is installed in your vehicle to help prevent driving after consuming alcohol. This device is connected to the vehicle's ignition and requires a breath sample before the engine will start. Rolling tests can also be required while the vehicle is in operation.
Standardized field sobriety tests or “SFSTs” are sobriety tests that police officers may use to assess an individual's level of impairment, if any. These tests typically include the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. However, SFSTs are subjective and not always accurate. Your DUI lawyer may be able to challenge their validity in court if the officer fails to comply with the NHTSA testing protocols.
Under the North Carolina implied consent law, if you refuse to take an evidentiary blood, breath, or urine test when directed by law enforcement, your driver's license may be suspended for up to one year. That is referred to as a Willful Refusal. A Willful Refusal is not an additional criminal charge in North Carolina. Failure to submit to a handheld alcohol screening device (AlcoSensor) does not result in a license suspension or additional criminal charges.
Probable cause is the legal standard that police officers must meet in order to make an arrest. In a DUI case, probable cause may include things like the officer's observations of your driving behavior, field sobriety test (SFST) results, and a handheld breath screening device known as an AlcoSensor. DUI lawyers help determine whether the officer had probable cause to arrest and challenge the legality of the arrest if legal grounds exist to do so.
The penalties can be severe for someone convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense in North Carolina within the statutorily defined period. At the sentencing hearing, the Court takes into consideration the nature and circumstances of the offense, including but not limited to the existence of Grossly Aggravating, Aggravating, and Mitigating Factors. North Carolina does not use the term DWI FIRST for sentencing purposes.
The cost of hiring a DUI lawyer can vary depending on the complexity of your case, the lawyer's experience, and the amount of time the lawyer expects to spend on your case. Some lawyers charge a flat fee, while others charge an hourly rate. It's important to discuss fees with your lawyer upfront to avoid any surprises later on.
You have the right to represent yourself in a DUI case. That is not recommended, as DUI cases can be complex and involve substantial legal and scientific information. Given the possible long-term consequences of conviction, retaining a DUI Defense Lawyer in Lincolnton NC is advisable.
You may be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer if you can't afford to hire a DUI lawyer and are found to be “indigent” by the Court (the Judge). An Affidavit of Indigency is required to request court-appointed counsel. Alternatively, some DUI lawyers may offer payment plans to help make their services more affordable.
In North Carolina, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged from your record. This means that it will remain on your criminal record indefinitely, which can impact your ability to find employment, housing, or other opportunities in the future.
If you're pulled over on suspicion of DUI in Lincolnton NC, remain calm and polite. You have the right to remain silent and speak with a lawyer. You are not required to submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or admit guilt. If you are arrested, contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense strategy.