What is a Provisional DWI Charge in North Carolina?
Few things feel more defeating than getting charged with a DWI. But life happens, and everyone makes mistakes from time to time, especially when they are young. If you’ve been charged with a provisional DWI, sometimes called an underage DWI, there’s still hope for both you and your future.
If you’ve been charged with a provisional DWI in North Carolina, you may, or may not, know how broad and long-reaching the consequences can be. But our team of seasoned, empathetic criminal lawyers in Charlotte understand North Carolina DWI laws inside and out, and we’d love to help you get your life and future back on track.
What Is a Provisional DWI in North Carolina?
Whether you look at social media trends or movies produced by Hollywood, it is clear that our culture glorifies teen drinking. As a result, it is very common for teens to ignore the risks and dangers of drinking and driving, and end up behind the wheel after sneaking a few beers with their buddies.
So what happens when someone under 21 gets pulled over and blows a 0.01 BAC or higher on a Breathalyzer? While the person may not be “impaired” as defined under the law in North Carolina, it is their age that’s the problem. In North Carolina, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to have any amount of alcohol in their system at a time relevant to driving, so the normal 0.08 BAC limit does not apply. Fortunately, the person would not be charged with your normal DWI charge in this example, but would instead be charge with a provisional DWI, which is also known colloquially as an “Underage DWI” or “Baby DWI.”
Think of provisional DWIs as the friendlier, less-punitive cousin of a full-blown DWI charge. At the heart of provisional DWI charges is not whether or not the driver was impaired, but whether or not the underage driver had any alcohol in his or her system. Nevertheless, those charged with a provisional DWI can still face some pretty serious consequences, such as a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. But most first-time offenders usually get off easy with up to a $1,000 fine and probation that includes mandatory community service and substance abuse treatment.
What Are My Options After a Provisional DWI Charge in NC?
You might feel like your life is already over after getting charged with a provisional DWI, but you should find hope in the fact that you have some pretty good options for fighting it.
Everyone’s case is different, so different routes will work for different people. If you can provide evidence that the police officer who pulled you over did not have probable cause to believe you were impaired, or otherwise botched the investigation, you may have grounds to fight the charge.
In other cases, where the facts of the case are unfavorable to the person charged, there are additional options your attorney may have to help you avoid a criminal conviction.
You can also ask your attorney to negotiate a plea deal. A plea deal is essentially an admission of guilt in exchange for a lighter sentencing and punishment. Since most provisional DWI offenders are so young and impressionable, they benefit immensely from staying out of the criminal justice system, especially if they are first-time offenders, so pleading guilty without the assistance of an experienced DWI lawyer should never be the first option.
How Our Charlotte Provisional DWI Lawyers Can Help You
Getting charged with a Provisional DWI doesn’t just affect you – it affects your loved ones as well, and they’re often the ones who will have to help you pick up the slack when you can’t drive to and from work, school, and other activities. But the good news is you don’t have to brave your legal battles alone. Here at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we have the experience and know-how to help you get the best deal from your court proceeding. Call us at (980) 237-4579 to learn more about how we can best serve you.