NORTH CAROLINA DWI FAQ's ATTORNEYS
A DWI is a serious offense and can cause serious penalties. However, Attorney William Vasquez has successfully defended numerous cases involving impaired driving where the person was found not guilty or the case was dismissed. If you are charged with a DWI it is crucial that you immediately speak with an experienced defense lawyer.
What happens if I refuse to take a breath test after I am pulled over for suspected DWI in North Carolina?
If you refuse to take a breath test when pulled over for suspected DWI in North Carolina you will face an automatic license suspension, even if you are never convicted of DWI. This is because you provided what’s referred to as “implied consent” to a drug or alcohol test in the event of suspected drunk or impaired driving when you received your North Carolina driver’s license.
It is never advised to refuse a breath test; an officer has the authority to obtain a search warrant to take a test of your bodily fluids to determine impairment.
If you do refuse to take a breath test, there are options to contest the alleged refusal by requesting a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. There are strict deadlines that apply, and if a hearing is not requested within a certain amount of time, the refusal will go into effect. A license revocation for a willful refusal is for one year, however, a limited privilege may be obtained after six months of that revocation if certain requirements are met.
If this is your fist DWI, you are likely to face:
- Driver’s license revocation for one year
- A fine of up to $2,000
- A minimum of 24 hours in jail
Additional penalties could be assessed for extenuating circumstances. A lawyer can offer guidance on specific circumstances.
A person may apply for a limited driving privilege if certain conditions are met.
A breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIIDs) as it is known in North Carolina is a type of breathalyzer that is connected to a vehicle’s ignition system.
Drivers must blow into the device before the vehicle will start. If the device reads at or below a specific programmed breath-alcohol concentration level, the vehicle will start. If it reads over that level, the vehicle will not start.
In North Carolina, drivers with a .15 BAC level or higher or those with previous DWIs are required to have an IID installed and monitored on their vehicle. There is a medical exception to the interlock requirement, however, that exception is rarely granted by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The state of North Carolina is strict when it comes to driver’s license suspension and revocation for a drunk driving offense. This is what you could face as a driver if convicted of DWI:
- First DWI offense — one year
- Second DWI offense— If the prior conviction was within three years the revocation will be for four years—a conditional license may be applied for after two years. If the prior conviction was over three years but within seven years the revocation will be for one year—No limited driving privilege is allowed.
- Third DWI offense — When a person’s license is revoked for an impaired driving offense and the person has two or more previous offenses involving impaired driving for which the person has been convicted, and the most recent offense occurred within the five years immediately preceding the date of the offense for which the person’s license is being revoked, the revocation is permanent. (When a person’s license is permanently revoked they may be entitled to a hearing at some point in the future to request a conditional restoration of their license.)
Habitual Impaired Driving
A person commits the offense of habitual impaired driving if he/she drives while impaired and has been convicted of three or more offenses involving impaired driving within ten years of the date of the present offense. A person convicted of Habitual Impaired Driving will be punished as a Class F felon and shall be sentenced to a minimum active term of not less than 12 months of imprisonment, which shall not be suspended.
In North Carolina, the prior DWI will always appear on your driving record. If you are convicted of a DWI and have a prior conviction for DWI within seven years you are likely to fact heightened penalties, including mandatory jail time. Even if a prior conviction is more than seven years old it can still be considered an aggravating factor which could possibly cause heightened penalties.