What to Do After You Are Charged With a DWI

Car keys, alcohol and handcuffs - Charged with a DWI concept

Being charged with a DWI in North Carolina can impact you in many ways — legally, personally, professionally, and financially. In addition to the criminal consequences that can come with a DWI conviction, the North Carolina Department of Transportation can also impose separate administrative penalties. While facing an offense of driving while intoxicated can be overwhelming, it’s important to know what to expect and what you should do after being charged with a DWI.

Contact a DWI Defense Attorney Immediately After You Are Charged With a DWI

DWI offenses are taken very seriously by North Carolina courts. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, it’s crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible. In addition to protecting your rights and providing you with legal guidance, they can also investigate the case and gather information in support of your defense after you have been charged with a DWI.

Since there are a number of issues that are time sensitive when it comes to challenging a DWI, it’s vital to act quickly. For instance, they can assist you at a DMV hearing with challenging a one-year license revocation based on a breath test refusal — but this must be done within 10 days of the arrest. They can also help with fighting a 30-day license revocation in the first 10 days, as well as mitigate any circumstances necessary to reduce the chance of a severe outcome in your case.

Record the Details of What Happened and Identify Potential Witnesses

You should record all the details that led to the DWI, the arrest, and everything that happened until the time you are released from jail. For instance, you should memorialize how the police first encountered you, any statements you made to them, and whether you were asked to take a field sobriety test. You should also document whether the police gave you a breath test, and if you were given the choice of a blood test.

It's also essential to make a list of potential witnesses who might be able to prove that you weren’t under the influence of alcohol while driving. These details should be discussed with your attorney, who can best advise you regarding what evidence will be helpful to your defense.

Complete a DWI Alcohol Assessment

If you are convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, you will be required to complete an alcohol assessment. However, if you wish to receive limited driving privileges during the period of civil revocation (before a conviction), an assessment is also mandatory. The assessment consists of an interview with a licensed counselor and filling out a structured questionnaire to determine whether you have a substance abuse issue.

The cost of the alcohol assessment is $100 — this fee was established by the North Carolina legislature. An agency conducting the assessment is not legally permitted to charge you more or less than this amount.

Obtain Limited Driving Privileges

Not only does being charged with a DWI come with criminal consequences, but there are also civil ramifications. Critically, your license will automatically be revoked for at least 30 days following a DWI arrest. After a conviction, your license can be revoked for one year. But, you may be eligible to obtain a restricted license that would allow for limited driving privileges after ten days of revocation.

There are a few categories that apply to limited driving privileges in North Carolina, including pre-trial, post-conviction, and refusal. Depending on the circumstances, these types of licenses can allow you to drive to and from work, school, religious worship, medical appointments, the grocery store, and substance abuse treatment. Limited driving privileges are typically restricted to Monday through Friday during standard hours (6 a.m. through 8 p.m.), although extended hours may be available depending on your situation and the type of limited driving privilege. In some cases, the privilege may be conditioned upon the installation of an interlock ignition device.

To become eligible for limited driving privileges after you have been charged with a DWI, you must prepare and file a petition with the court, along with a proof of insurance form, a substance abuse assessment, and other documents verifying your employment. It is up to the judge’s discretion whether to issue a restricted license. The court may set certain terms with which you must comply, such as not consuming any alcohol.

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Defense Attorney Immediately After Being Charged with a DWI

The facts and circumstances surrounding every DWI charge are unique, and a tailored defense strategy is required in each case. A knowledgeable DWI attorney can help ensure your rights are protected and work to achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf. The Johnston County criminal defense attorneys at Reece & Reece, Attorneys at Law provide effective advocacy for a wide range of criminal and traffic-related offenses, including DWIs. Call (919) 300-1249 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.

Categories: DUI/DWI