Wake Forest DWI Attorney
DWI has slightly increased in NC over the past few years, but the number of fatalities and serious injuries related to DWI is down. Driving while impaired (DWI) is also known as driving under the influence (DUI) and is one of the most serious traffic offenses in North Carolina. If you are convicted of DWI in Wake Forest, NC, you could lose your driving privileges for up to a year and face substantial fines, probation, and even jail time. It is vitally important that you have a strong Wake Forest DWI attorney on your side from start to finish. At Tolin & Tolin, PLLC, we understand what a difficult time this is for you as well as the wide range of scenarios that could have landed you in this situation.
Perhaps you truly were not driving while impaired but did poorly on field sobriety tests due to another issue. Perhaps you made a one-time error in judgment. No matter what the circumstances of your DWI are, Tolin & Tolin, PLLC is here to help. We provide highly personalized attention, representing those seeking justice, and assisting those in need. We are proud of the experience, knowledge, and legal skills of our team; we understand that DWI cases can be complex and that you risk serious consequences from a conviction. Let a Tolin & Tolin, PLLC attorney look out for your best interests and your future.
What are the DWI Laws in North Carolina?
North Carolina is an implied consent state. This means that when you obtain a driver’s license, you are implicitly agreeing to a BAC test should you be suspected of DWI (This does not necessarily mean you should submit to the test). The penalties associated with DWI in North Carolina are grave, with a complex sentencing structure. Judges are required to weigh both mitigating and aggravating factors, along with personal factors like the age of the accused. For those under the age of 21, North Carolina is a “zero tolerance” state.
Those 21 and over can be convicted of DWI with a BAC at 0.08 percent or above. Drivers of commercial vehicles may not have a BAC over 0.04 percent. In the past, the state of NC would accept a plea for the lesser offense of reckless driving but that is no longer the case. North Carolina may also impound your vehicle for a minimum of 10 days, once you have been charged with DWI. You must then pay to have your vehicle released from impound. While your driving privileges are automatically revoked for a minimum of 30 days following your DWI arrest, your attorney can petition for limited driving privileges 10 days following your charges.
Is DWI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
In most cases, a DWI will be charged as a misdemeanor offense. If, however, you are considered a habitual offender or if the DWI resulted in an accident that resulted in the death of another person, your DWI could be charged as a felony. Each prior conviction for DWI will count as a “grossly aggravating factor.” This can damage your current case, resulting in an Aggravated Level 1 punishment. Any person with three prior DWI convictions is considered a habitual offender. If you are convicted of a felony, you will deal with collateral consequences such as the potential loss of a job or an inability to find employment, as well as the inability to secure a federal student loan or obtain a professional license.
What are the Potential Penalties for DWI?
As noted, your age, your BAC, and other factors will determine your penalties if convicted of DWI. If this is your first DWI you may receive lesser punishments, while if there are aggravating factors you could receive more serious punishments.
- For a Level Five DWI, you could spend from 24 hours to 60 days in jail, facing fines up to $200.
- For a Level Four DWI, you could spend from 48 hours to 120 days in jail, facing fines up to $500.
- For a Level Three DWI, you could spend from 72 hours to six months in jail, facing fines up to $1,000.
- For a Level Two DWI, you could spend from seven days to one year in jail, facing fines up to $2,000.
- For a Level One DWI, you could spend from 30 days to two years in jail, facing fines up to $4,000.
- For an Aggravated Level One DWI you could spend from one to three years in jail, facing fines as large as $10,000.
Aggravating factors include a BAC of .15 percent or above, reckless driving, causing an accident, driving with a revoked license, prior DWI convictions, speeding while trying to elude a police officer, driving 30 mph or more over the speed limit, or illegally passing a school bus. Mitigating factors include slight impairment with no BAC test available, a safe driving record, a BAC below 0.09 percent, lawful operation of the vehicle (other than the DWI), whether the impairment was caused by prescription meds taken appropriately, and voluntary submission for a mental health assessment.
When aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors, the judge will typically impose a Level 3 sentence. Absent any aggravating or mitigating factors, the judge will typically impose a Level 4 sentence, and when mitigating factors outweigh aggravating factors, a Level 5 sentence is the likely outcome. Your experienced Wake Forest DWI attorney from Tolin & Tolin, PLLC can have a significant impact on the outcome of your DWI charges. We will fight for you from the moment we are on your case, working hard to lessen the impact your DWI will have on your future.
How Long Will a DWI Stay on Your Record?
The “lookback” period for a DWI in North Carolina for a misdemeanor conviction is seven years. For a felony habitual DWI, the lookback period is ten years. North Carolina’s lookback period takes DWI convictions from other states into consideration. When arrested on DWI charges, the court will look back seven or ten years to add up offenses and increase your penalties. If your current DWI arrest is within seven years of a first DWI conviction, it will be sentenced as a second offense. If you have three or more prior DWI convictions within the past ten years, you face habitual impaired driving charges.
How a Wake Forest DWI Attorney Can Help Plan Your Defense
Of course, the defense your Wake Forest DWI attorney from Tolin & Tolin, PLLC uses on your behalf will depend on the specific circumstances and facts surrounding your arrest, there are some common defenses used for DWI charges. These defenses include:
- There was no reasonable, articulable suspicion to pull you over—i.e., you had committed no traffic violation and were not driving erratically.
- The field sobriety tests are inaccurate, due to a medical condition you might have, a prescription drug you were taking, an illness, or any number of other reasons.
- Your breathalyzer test was not accurate, whether due to an outside factor, machine error, or operating error.
- Your blood test was improperly administered, the chain of custody was broken, or there was tampering with the blood sample.
- You were not actually driving the vehicle; the arresting officer needs to prove you were actually driving the vehicle.
- Your civil rights were violated; you were not properly Mirandized or you were denied your right to an attorney.
How an Experienced Wake Forest DWI Attorney from Tolin & Tolin, PLLC Can Help
At Tolin & Tolin, PLLC, we serve not only Wake Forest, but clients throughout Franklin, Person, and Granville Counties, including all the cities within those counties. When you choose Tolin & Tolin, PLLC, you are choosing a responsive legal team that really listens, telling clients the truth, even when that truth is difficult. Our attorneys are highly respected; we continuously seek the very best results for our clients while creating a stellar client experience. We want to help you get your life back on track and begin moving forward while understanding that this can be an overwhelming time for you. At Tolin & Tolin, PLLC, we will ensure your rights are fully protected while working for the best future possible for you and your family. Contact Tolin & Tolin, PLLC today—Exceptional Client Experience, Outstanding Results.