Top 21 DUI / DWI Frequently Asked Questions

While serving the Wilmington Community since 2003, there are many common questions our firm receives about DUI / DWI Law. Below, you will find the 21 most common questions we receive accompanied with a brief straight-forward answer.

Remember, every single case is different and has its own unique set of facts. By calling our firm and sharing your facts, we can provide you with specific and detailed answers. The consultation is free and 100% confidential. 

If you are charged with DWI and your breath or blood alcohol results are a .08 or greater, you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample, or you are under 21 and have blown over a .01 the Magistrate shall revoke your license to drive for 30 days.  It is important that you call us immediately because you can drive again if able to get a hearing and have the Court rescind the revocation and you can get fully reinstated.  Or you can have the Judge sign off on a paper license.  In order to get a paper license signed by the Judge you must have been revoked for at least ten days, had an alcohol assessment, and you will have to pay $100 to the Clerk of Court for the Paper license that will be limited for work, education, and household purposes.
If convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, you must complete an alcohol assessment and finish any and all treatment that the agency recommends.  The alcohol assessment agencies have guidelines that they must follow in which to recommend treatment based on drinking patterns, past convictions, and your breath or blood result.  The initial alcohol assessment takes roughly 40 minutes and you must have this initial alcohol assessment to get any kind of paper license.  Having an alcohol assessment is something that helps mitigate your case.  The initial alcohol assessment runs just over $100.  If convicted, you must complete the classes.  The agency will turn in a 508 form that is required by the state of NC.  If you do not complete these classes, then DMV will place a hold on your license. 
You will lose your license for one year. If you are convicted of two DWIs within three years DMV can revoke your license for four years.  You can become eligible for a hearing in two years if no convictions for drugs or alcohol violations or driving.  We frequently represent people at these hearings that are called Conditional Restoration Hearings.
If convicted of a DWI, with no priors within 7 years, with no children or kids under 18 in the car at the time of the arrest, with no current revocation for impaired driving, with no accident involving a serious injury, and you did not have a breath or blood result over a .15 THEN YOU ARE IMMEDIATELY ELIGIBLE FOR A PAPER LICENSE.  In NC we call this a limited driving privilege.  Some states call it a hardship license or a Cinderella License.
No.  If convicted of a second dwi within seven years you are not eligible for a paper license.  You will not be eligible to drive until complied with DMV.
NOT IF CONVICTED OF THE DWI.  The NC Legislature has not created an avenue for anyone 20 or less convicted of DWI to get a limited driving privilege for work, school, or education purposes.  It is a very rough punishment for someone who needs to work or go to school. 
In NC if under 21, we are a per se state.  That means you cannot have any alcohol in your system and drive.  If convicted of this statute it is a class 2 misdemeanor that will revoke your license for one year.  You are eligible for a paper license if you have had an alcohol assessment and have completed all your alcohol class requirements.
Most likely on a first conviction for DWI you will not go to jail unless there are multiple aggravating factors or grossly aggravating factors.  It is important that you have counsel who helps mitigate your case.  On the other hand, if you are convicted of a second dwi charge within a seven year period, you shall be sentenced to jail time.  However, the legislature has come up with several options that may be accepted by the court in lieu of jail.  It is important that you know the options available.  We work with our clients with priors in recommending treatment options and continuous alcohol monitoring providers.  These are two options that may help avoid jail time.
If you have an attorney, you will not have to be present until advised by your attorney that you are ready to proceed for trial.  Typically, I will not have my client go to court until we have the notes from the officer, and I  have reviewed potential videotape evidence and we try and pick the best potential judge to hear our case.  If trying a client’s case they must be present and dressed nicely.  If we are doing a plea with no supervised probation or jail time then, we can do a plea by waiver.  That means that you would not have to show up for court if doing a plea by waiver.  Some judges will not accept a plea by waiver.
In NC there are no such things as a wet reckless or a conditional discharge or diversion programs to dismiss dwis.   A driving while impaired charge must be tried and won on the merits of the case.  If a prosecutor was to dismiss a DWI, then they must fill out a form explaining the dismissal of the DWI.  This does not happen very often. 
In NC, your case is first set for District Court.  In District Court, you will be tried in front of a District Court Judge.   If you lose your trial, you can appeal to Superior Court and have a trial by Jury or a bench trial. 
The District Attorney’s Office has the burden to prove all aggravating and grossly aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.  The District Attorney’s Office will typically request a National Driving History to provide the Court notice of any prior convictions.  A conviction will stay on your record for a lifetime. 
In NC, you do not have the authority to have a DWI conviction expunged. However, you can expunge any DWIs that have been dismissed.
In NC, if convicted and your blood or breath alcohol is reported a .15 or greater, and you are a NC licensee, then you shall be required to have the interlock in your car for one year.  You cannot say, “Well I will just not drive during my revocation period.”  DMV would require you to get the interlock in your car to get reinstated.  The hard part about convictions with a .15 reported breath or blood result is that upon conviction, for even a first dwi, you cannot drive for forty five days under a limited driving privilege.  Therefore, upon conviction you must wait forty five days, have the interlock installed into your vehicle, then the Judge will sign off on a limited driving privilege. 
Start with credentials from well known and nationally recognized directories.  Look at trial experience.  DWIs are some of the most complicated cases to handle that can affect you for a lifetime.  I recommend that you meet your lawyer in person or by video conference.  A typical DWI interview can take an hour long to figure out potential aggravating factors, potential helpful mitigating ideas, and litigation issues.
First of all if you live in Wilmington or the surrounding areas, you need to get driving and an attorney is a must to help you get your license back by having a hearing or by getting a paper license.  Also, a good lawyer can help you try potential issues and try and win your case against a trained prosecutor. 
In NC, the Prosecutor must prove that one is operating a motor vehicle.  The courts have defined operation of a motor vehicle as a person behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition.  One could argue necessity in some unique cases.
If a person charged with DWI seriously injures someone as a result of an accident the state may charge the Defendant with felony serious bodily harm.  If the person ends up dying as a result of the accident the State has charged Defendants with Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter.  In charging someone with murder the state looks at the Defendant’s prior record and their conduct on the day or night in question.

Yes, frequently people are charged after admitting to taking sleep medications, sedatives, and pain medications. Also people get charged who have taken illegal drugs. Often the state has a hard time in some cases proving that one was still impaired by something and what they are impaired by.

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