Understanding a North Carolina Provisional DWI
North Carolina has a zero tolerance policy for underage drivers who get caught with alcohol or drugs in their system. When you violate the state’s zero tolerance policy, you will be charged with Driving After Consumption While Under 21, which is also known as a Provisional DWI. While not quite as serious as a full-blown DWI (driving while impaired) charge, provisional DWI charges should be taken seriously as they involve harsh penalties such as jail time, fines, and a revoked license.
If you’ve been charged with a provisional DWI in Mecklenburg County, then you should speak with a Charlotte DWI lawyer right away. We will review your situation and help you obtain the best possible outcome. Contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys today at (980) 237-4579 or use our online contact form
Underage Drunk Drivers Will Be Charged With Provisional DWI
North Carolina’s zero tolerance law is found at North Carolina General Statute 20-138.3. The law provides that it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drive on a public vehicular area, road, or highway while drinking alcohol, or while there is any amount of alcohol or drugs in their system. However, the law specifically makes it legal to drive with a controlled substance in your system if it was “lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.”
Like with any other crime, a prosecutor must prove every element of the statutory offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of provisional DWI are:
- You were under the age of 21 at the time of the incident
- You were driving or in physical control of any type of motor vehicle
- You were on a public highway, road, or public vehicular area
- You had any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, or you were drinking while driving
Usually, the presence of alcohol in your system is established after your arrest with a blood or breath test which measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you register a BAC of 0.01 or more, you may face provisional DWI charges. Similarly, if any drugs are detected via a blood or urine test, you may be charged with the offense. If you refuse to submit to these tests, you may still be charged on the basis of the officer’s observations of symptoms of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol, or your erratic behavior.
A Provisional DWI Conviction Comes With Stiff Penalties
If you refuse to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test once you’re in custody for suspected provisional DWI, you will receive administrative penalties. The police will inform the Division of Motor Vehicles of your refusal, and your driver’s license will automatically get suspended for up to one year. You may request a hearing to fight the suspension of your driving privileges, but this procedure is separate from your criminal case.
If you get convicted of DWI, you face a judicially-mandated driver’s license suspension of up to 30 days. At the end of the suspension period, you will need to pay a $100 fee to get the license back. Furthermore, provisional DWI is a class 2 misdemeanor carrying the possibility of up to 60 days in jail. However, the vast majority of provisional DWI offenders receive a fine of up to $1,000, and probation which includes conditions such as substance abuse treatment and community service.
How a Charlotte DWI Lawyer Can Help
Depending on the facts of your case and your personal situation, your lawyer might look at several defense strategies:
- Fighting the charge – When there is evidence that the police did not have probable cause to believe you were intoxicated, or illegally pulled you over
- Negotiating a plea deal – Provisional DWI offenders are necessarily young people who may benefit from lenient treatment by the criminal justice system
- Requesting continued judgment – By entering a prayer for continued judgment, your lawyer can ensure that you take responsibility for your actions all while avoiding the complications of a formal criminal conviction
In general, there are higher chances of obtaining a positive case outcome from a provisional DWI than a normal DWI charge. But the outcome depends in large part on your lawyer’s experience and abilities. To learn more about what defenses may be available to you, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys today at (980) 237-4579 for a free consultation regarding your case.