Can a DWI Be Reduced to Reckless Driving in Charlotte?
When you have been arrested and charged with a DWI, you need to take an honest look at your case. It can be uncomfortable, but you should understand the evidence that is favorable to prove your innocence and against you. You need to recognize the strength of the prosecutor’s case versus the strength of your defense. It is essential you prepare for the best and worst outcomes.
The best way to obtain this analysis of your case is to work with an experienced Charlotte DWI lawyer at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys. Our attorneys will review your case and discuss with you the possible options, such as filing a motion to dismiss, defending you at trial, or negotiating a reduction of your charges.
DWI Charges in North Carolina
North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) §20-138.1 defines and prohibits impaired driving. The law states you can be convicted of driving while impaired if you operate any vehicle upon any highway, street, or public vehicular area within the state:
- While under the influence of a substance that can impair your abilities
- After consuming enough alcohol that you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more; or
- With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolite in your blood or urine
It’s essential you review the statute and understand that you can be convicted of a DWI when your BAC is above the legal limit, or when your BAC shows it is under .08. A prosecutor does not need a BAC above .08 to obtain a conviction, although a high BAC can strengthen their case. If your BAC was not at or above the legal limit, then you should speak with a DWI attorney about your options moving forward.
Is a Plea Bargain Available?
By working with an experienced Charlotte DWI lawyer, you can determine whether a plea bargain may be available in your case, and if so, whether that option will benefit you or not. Plea bargains are not always an option, and just because a prosecutor is willing to make a deal, it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you to do.
In North Carolina, plea bargains that include a prosecutor reducing DWI charges are rare. A prosecutor must state in court why they are reducing a DWI to another charge, such as reckless driving. Under NCGS §20-138.4, a prosecutor must enter detailed facts into the court record of any case subject to North Carolina’s implied consent law, or any case involving driving with a revoked license for an impaired driving charge and explain in open court (and in writing) the reasons why they are:
- Voluntarily entering a dismissal
- Accepting a guilty or no contest plea to a lesser offense
- Substituting another charge, “if the substitute charge carries a lesser mandatory minimum punishment or is not a case subject to the implied consent law”
- Otherwise taking an action that effectively dismisses or reduces the original charge in a case subject to the state’s implied consent law
Because of this statute, prosecutors hesitate to reduce DWI charges to reckless driving. The law specifically states that an explanation of the reduction being in the interests of justice or because there is inadequate evidence is not sufficient enough detail. The judge will require more facts and details as to why the prosecutor is dismissing or reducing your charge.
After hearing the prosecutor’s argument, the judge then has the opportunity to agree or disagree with this choice. If the judge does not agree with the prosecutor’s reasoning for the dismissal or reduction, it can be denied.
Contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys to Defend You Against DWI Charges
Because it is rare for a DWI charge to be reduced to reckless driving in North Carolina, you should speak with a Charlotte criminal defense attorney at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys about pursuing a dismissal of your case. If the prosecutor’s arguments are weak and there is insufficient evidence to prove you committed the offense, then there may be a strong basis for filing a motion to dismiss. If the judge does not dismiss your case, then you should speak with your attorney about the pros and cons of going to trial.