The consequences of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction in North Carolina can be life-changing. If convicted of first offense DWI in NC, you face both statutory and collateral consequences that will affect your personal and professional lives. During and after your arrest, you will likely have several questions running through your mind, including “will this impact my career,” or “will I lose my driver’s license?” Instead of letting your fear dictate how you deal with an arrest and subsequent legal issues, call a Charlotte DWI lawyer from Randall & Stump, PLLC for help.
We have over 25 years of experience fighting first offense DUI charges, and we’re prepared to assist you in protecting your rights and freedom. For help with your case, call us today at 980-237-4579, or reach out through the online form to schedule a free, initial consultation.
North Carolina DWI Laws
Under North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1, you can be found guilty of driving while intoxicated if you operate a vehicle while:
- You are under the influence of an impairing substance
- You have consumed enough alcohol to put your blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit (.08 percent for those 21 years and older, .04 percent for those with a CDL/ driving a commercial vehicle at the time of their stop, and any amount of alcohol for those under 21)
- There is any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your system
It is important to note that you can be arrested for DWI even if you are not under the influence of alcohol. A DWI charge can also result from using a controlled substance (illegal drug), taking too much of a prescribed medication, or even over-the-counter drugs.
Whether you’re dealing with a first offense DWI in NC or you’ve had multiple DWI offenses, when law enforcement officials stop you under suspicion of DWI, you will likely be asked to submit to several tests that will help the police determine your level of intoxication. These tests include:
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)
There are three recognized SFSTs that you may be asked to perform after being stopped by the police for DWI: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test. You cannot be penalized for refusing an SFST. If you were unaware of your right to refuse such a test, contact a DWI attorney at our firm right away.
Police may ask you to submit a blood or official breath test to determine your BAC. If you refuse a breath test, you can be punished with a civil, one-year revocation of your driver’s license. If you refuse a blood test, however, law enforcement will likely obtain a search warrant to draw your blood, which will be tested at a local crime lab. If law enforcement officials obtain a warrant for your blood and you still refuse, various other legal issues may arise.
Factors that Can Affect Your First Offense DUI
When you face charges for DWI in North Carolina, there are a number of mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors that could impact how you will be punished if convicted for driving while under the influence, including:
- Taking part in an alcohol or drug treatment program voluntarily
- A BAC of not higher than .09 (if you are at least 21 years old)
- Impairment from prescription medication
- Notwithstanding the DWI, otherwise safe and lawful driving
- Voluntary submission to a DWI assessment
- A clean driving record during the past five years
- Especially reckless or dangerous driving
- Negligent driving that led to an accident
- Driving While License Revoked
- Attempting to evade arrest by speeding
- A high BAC of .15 or more
- A DWI conviction that occurred within the past seven years
- Driving with a minor in the car at the time of your offense
- Seriously injuring another person during the commission of your offense
- Driving with a revoked license (when your license was taken due to an impaired driving offense)
If you find yourself charged with a first offense DWI in NC and want to know if any of the above factors will impact your potential sentence, contact an attorney from Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. We will look at the facts surrounding your specific situation, and analyze whether any mitigating factors could minimize the consequences of your DWI.
Penalties for 1st Offense DUI in NC
In North Carolina, DWI convictions are punished on a sliding scale. This means that depending on the specific circumstances of your case, including your BAC and other factors, you will be punished with a specific level of DWI sentencing. For a first time DWI in NC, you may be charged with a lower level punishment; if aggravating factors exist, you may be charged at a more serious level.
For a first offense DUI in North Carolina, you could face the following statutory penalties:
- Level Five – 24 hours to 60 days in jail, and fines reaching $200
- Level Four – 48 hours to 120 days in jail, and fines reaching $500
- Level Three – 72 hours to six months in jail, and fines reaching $1,000
- Level Two – Seven days to one year in jail, and fines reaching $2,000
- Level One – 30 days to two years in jail, and fines reaching $4,000
- Aggravated Level One – One to three years in jail, and fines reaching $10,000
In addition to jail time and fines, you may be sentenced to probation, substance abuse treatment, alcohol education classes, license revocation, and more. Other consequences for such a conviction include higher car insurance premiums, revocation of certain professional licenses, an inability to gain admission to college or graduate school, and greatly-strained personal relationships.
For help in avoiding the statutory and collateral consequences of a first offense DWI in NC, contact Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and freedoms, and will fight vigorously to help you avoid the above penalties.
First Time DUI Defenses
If you are stopped by a police officer and eventually arrested or charged with a first offense DWI, there are numerous defenses your attorney may use to improve your situation, such as:
- Challenging the legality of your initial stop
- Proving a lack of evidence
- Proving you were not impaired by alcohol or medication
- Challenging the results of a BAC test or an SFST
- Challenging whether sufficient probable cause existed to justify your arrest
- Challenging whether the State can meet its burden of proving each element of DWI beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction
Call Us Today for Help With Your First Offense DWI in NC
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, call an attorney at Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. The consequences of a conviction for a first offense DWI in NC are serious and can affect your personal and professional lives for years to come. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience assisting clients facing first time DWI charges, and they are prepared to help fight for you.
For a free and confidential consultation of your case, call us today at 980-237-4579, or reach out through our online form.