What Is the Difference Between an Alcohol Related DWI and a Drug Related DWI?
When someone mentions a DWI, alcohol is most likely one of the first things that pops into your mind. But did you know it’s possible to get charged with a DWI if you’re driving while impaired, and the impairment is caused by an illegal and/or controlled substances in your system? Here in North Carolina, even first-time offenders can face harsh penalties such as a revocation of their driving privilege, steep fines, and mandatory jail time.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you know how much long-term damage it can inflict on your life. Our team of seasoned, empathetic criminal defense lawyers understand North Carolina DWI laws inside and out, and we’d love to fiercely advocate for your rights. Call us today at (980) 237-4579 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
How Do Field Sobriety Tests Differ Between Drug Related DWIs and Alcohol Related DWIs?
North Carolina law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle under the influence of an “impairing substance.” However, one crucial difference between testing drivers for alcohol and drug impairment is that drugs cannot be detected in your system with a quick, roadside Breathalyzer test. Only a blood test and specific exam, administered by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), can confirm whether there were drugs in your system while you were driving your car.
If the DRE has reason to believe that your physical and/or mental faculties are impaired by marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, LSD, a psychoactive substance capable of impairing an individual’s mental faculties, or a combination of any of the above, then you will be charged with a drug related DWI.
While it may be a “no-brainer” when it comes to illegal drugs, keep in mind, though, that the consumption of many legal, prescription drugs can also result in a DRE concluding that you are impaired at a time relevant to driving, and being charged with a DWI . Given that the definition of this term is so broad and that people’s bodies respond differently to different drugs, your prescription drug use may not impact your chances of getting charged with a drug DWI.
What Are Some Differences Between Alcohol DWI Laws and Drug DWI Laws?
Penalties for DWI charges are pretty serious–even if sentenced as a Level V, which is the most lenient sentencing level for DWIs in North Carolina. The penalties are more or less the same for both alcohol and drug DWIs. The biggest difference between these two types of DWIs lies in how police officers test your system for the substances, whether it be field sobriety tests or chemical analysis tests, as we mentioned earlier.
The typical punishment for Level V DWI sentencing usually incur a maximum fine of $200 and a mandatory jail sentence that ranges anywhere from one to 60 days. Additionally, the driver must perform 24 hours of community service and while have their driving privileges revoked in North Carolina for a minimum of twelve (12) months.
The harshness of these penalties increase all the way up to Aggravated Level I, which is the most serious misdemeanor DWI charge. Drivers who get sentenced with Aggravated Level I DWIs have at least three (3) grossly aggravating factors in their case, so the judge isn’t as likely to be lenient at sentencing. People who are sentenced for an Aggravated Level I DWI can get hit with a whopping $10,000 fine and a prison sentence ranging from 12 months to three years.
How Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys Handles Drug and Alcohol DWI Charges
If you are charged with a drug or alcohol related DWI, we will develop a defense strategy to fight your charges and fight for the best outcome possible, given the facts and circumstances in your case. That may mean challenging the breathalyzer or drug test that was used to measure the level of the impairing substance you had in your system. We can also challenge the expertise of the person who performed the test on you.
Another way we often attack drug related DWI charges is to challenge when you had a drug test completed and whether you were actually impaired. Many drugs can remain in your system for much longer than they actually impair your judgment and driving skills.
We will challenge the traffic stop itself and determine if the police officer had a valid reason to pull you over in the first place. If they did not, we may be able to get your entire case dismissed.
How Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Assist You
Getting charged with a 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 deal with the aftermath. But the good news is there are knowledgeable, compassionate criminal defense attorneys out there who can help you. Here at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we have the courtroom experience and legal know-how to help you get the best deal from your case. Call us at (980) 237-4579 to learn more about how we can best serve you.