DWI Lawyer in Asheville, NC
An Asheville DWI lawyer, represents clients who are charged with DUI or DWI. This is a difficult time for you with a complicated process ahead. Our firm is here to guide you through this challenge with careful examination of the facts of your case, such as the events that lead up to the stop, the arrest, and the criminal charges. We will assess and advise based on these facts and any legal issues that arise in your specific situation. A DWI Attorney in Asheville, NC can help you fight your case and have your day in court.
It is up to the State to prove that the officers had probable cause to conduct the initial traffic stop. If
they cannot do this, then all evidence gathered at the time will be excluded or suppressed at trial. In fact, the case may simply be dismissed for this reason. There are also situations that involve improper administration of the field sobriety or breathalyzer tests, and a skilled DWI defense attorney in Asheville, NC can help you beat a drunk driving charge if this is the case. The most important decision you make at this time is going to be hiring an attorney, and it is essential to find one who specializes in DUI/DWI cases.
Asheville DWI Lawyer – Overview
You can be arrested for driving while impaired (DWI), in line with North Carolina Impaired Driving code § 20138.1. However, certain things must be proven beyond reasonable doubt to indicate that you did in fact drive while impaired. It must be proven that:
- You drove the vehicle on a road, highway, street, etc. within North Carolina.
- You drove while under the influence of an impairing substance OR
- You drove after consuming enough alcohol to have a BAC of 0.08+. Chemical analysis results provide evidence to blood alcohol concentration OR
- You drove with some amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your system.
For many a DWI appears to be a lost cause, a situation that can’t be overcome. However, there are many situations where these charges can be successfully defended against. Hiring the right DWI attorney in Asheville is going to ensure that you get the best possible outcome and will make all the difference in your case.
Asheville, NC DWI Lawyer – we can help
about Asheville NC DWI Charges
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI, you’re going to have a lot of questions. While the following information should not be taken or interpreted as legal advice, you can learn some of the general answers to the most common questions, below. Keep in mind that each case is different, with unique circumstances and legal issues. Contact a local DWI attorney in Asheville, NC to get a thorough legal evaluation. Seek a free consultation with us – if you have more specific questions, or use our form to ask any unanswered questions you may have. An Asheville DWI defense attorney will promptly respond to address your questions and concerns.
Q: What has to be proven by the State for a DWI conviction?
A: North Carolina General Statute § 20 138.1 states the actual DWI law in this state. The State must prove that you were driving in a public place (even your driveway) while under the influence of an impairing substance, or with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more, or with any Schedule I controlled substance in your system. Because some drugs stay in your system for several days, you can actually be convicted of a DWI for prior drug use that did not even occur on the day of driving. However, if there was no legal reason to give the chemical analysis, then this evidence can be suppressed through the efforts of an experienced attorney.
Q: I had a BAC of 0.08 or greater; do I have to plead guilty?
A: You do have other options than pleading guilty when you’ve been arrested for driving with a BAC of 0.08+. For example, you can demand a hearing on whether or not the stop and arrest were lawful. If the traffic stop or arrest were illegal, then your attorney may be able to get the case dismissed. You can also demand a trial, which will mean that the State has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving while impaired. It may seem that all of the evidence is stacked against you, but with the right DWI lawyer, you will find that there are other options and directions to take your case.
Q: My license was suspended for a DWI; when can I drive again?
A: In North Carolina, registering with a BAC of 0.08+ can lead to a DWI charge where your license is automatically suspended for 30 days during the time that your case is pending. There are circumstances where you can petition the court for limited driving privileges, after ten days, so that you can get to work or to school.
Q: What will I face with my first DWI charge?
A: North Carolina law is harsh on drunk driving and impaired driving offenses, even with the first offense. If the case involves aggravating or grossly aggravating factors, such as prior offenses, having a child in the car, reckless driving, or having a BAC of 0.15+, then this is especially true. The best outcome for a first offense is typically 24 hours in jail, or 24 hours community service with up to $200 in fines plus court costs, plus having your license suspended for one year (limited driving privileges for work or school are available), plus probation with suspended jail sentence (jail sentence will be imposed if you violate probation). The worst outcome for a first offense is two years in jail plus $4,000 in fines. Our NC DWI Sentencing Guide goes into more detail of DWI sentencing.
Q: What are my rights if I’m stopped with suspicion of driving while impaired?
A: It is important to know what your rights are if you want to avoid a DWI conviction in Asheville, North Carolina. You do not have to answer any questions, to begin with. You do have to provide your license and registration, but you don’t have to answer questions about where you’ve come from, where you’re going, or whether or not you’ve been drinking or using other substances. Too many people make the mistake of answering questions that they do not have to answer, ultimately initiating the DWI investigation in the first place. While you should be polite and avoid being offensive, it is perfectly okay to refuse to answer questions. This alone could result in no action being taken if there is no objective reason to pursue their suspicion.
You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests or portable breathalyzer test. A field sobriety test can include performing activities like walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet. The portable breathalyzer tests are known as field units or PBTs and register your blood alcohol level by having you breath into the machine. You do not have to submit to any of these tests. You can refuse to comply with this, though if you are taken in to the police station or a checkpoint/roadblock with the Intox EC/IR II machine, then you are required to submit to this test. If you refuse, you can have your license suspended for a year. There is no downside to refusing to comply with field sobriety and breathalyzer tests, but choosing to refuse them can help your case. You could be released for lack of probable cause, or you could be found not guilty if the case goes to trial.
Q: If the officer did not read my rights when I was arrested, will they throw out the case?
A: This is actually a common misconception that people have about getting arrested. The Fifth Amendment covers your Due Process rights, which do require that the Miranda rights be read to you when you are in custody, and prior to interrogation. However, having your Miranda rights violated does not mean that your case will be thrown out. The Miranda rights are supposed to ensure that you know that you have a right to not answer questions and a right to have an attorney present, and that you’re aware that anything you say can (and will) be used against you. If you were not read these rights, then your answers to any interrogation questions can be determined to be inadmissible as evidence in your case. This will not impact any other evidence, such as words spoken prior to arrest or the results of a field sobriety or breathalyzer test. Keep in mind that it is always unwise to answer any questions without having an attorney present. Whether or not your rights have been read to you, requesting an attorney is the smart way to go.
Q: What if I refuse the police station breathalyzer?
A: While you are allowed to refuse a portable breathalyzer test without consequence, you cannot refuse the breathalyzer machine that is located at the police station (due to “implied consent” law in NC). If you do refuse this, then regardless of the outcome of your DWI case, your license will be suspended for up to a year. You will have to wait six months to even be eligible for limited driving privileges. They can also use this refusal as evidence of guilt if the case goes to trial. There are certain situations where your attorney may be able to prove (at a special hearing) a legitimate reason (like medical condition) to refuse or perhaps that you did not actually refuse the test.
Q: Is there any point in hiring a lawyer if I was charged with a DWI for BAC of 0.08+ and my license has been suspended?
A: It may seem hopeless if you are in a situation like this, but there is still a lot of value in hiring the right North Carolina DWI defense attorney. It takes more than a high BAC to get a DWI conviction. There also has to be a provable lawful bases for the initial traffic stop. That means that the government has to demonstrate that there was a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that resulted in the traffic stop. If the officer cannot articulate an objective reason for stopping you, then a lot of evidence can be suppressed, including your BAC, and the case could be dismissed. Further, the state has to prove that your arrest was driven by probable cause. Every element of the offense must be proven. If you choose a skilled Asheville, NC DWI lawyer, then every facet of the case can be challenged. This includes questions like whether or not you were even driving. Realistically, most North Carolina DWI cases lead to conviction. An attorney can improve your chances of a positive outcome and can even advocate for a reduced penalty if you do lose your case.
Q: Which tests can determine intoxication/impairment?
A: Three categories of tests are used to measure your level of intoxication/impairment or sobriety. There are “pre-exit tests” which can evaluate your level of impairment while still in the vehicle, such as reciting the alphabet from a given letter, counting backwards, or tapping each finger on one or both hands to the thumb of the same hand, one by one, while counting. Some of these tests can trip up the most sober person, particularly under the stressful circumstances of a traffic stop.
Then, there are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). These are unscientific procedures that were designed to aid in seeking a DWI/DUI conviction. You should refuse these tests, which include things like standing on one leg and counting until instructed to stop (the One-Let Stand Test), walking heel to toe, forward and/or backward (the Walk Straight Line Test), and following a pen or light with your eyes (the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test). You do not have to agree to any of these; but, if you do, the officers will have further opportunity to observe your behavior and more evidence to use against you. There is little downside to refusing these tests.
Finally, there are the blood tests and breathalyzer tests. The portable breath test (PBT) and the Alco-Sensor (hand held unit) are both used in North Carolina. The Alco-Sensor is known for being unreliable, and you do not have to submit to it. You would be wise to refuse this test and the PBT. However, to refuse these tests can be viewed as probable cause for arrest. If you are confident of your ability to pass the tests (keeping in mind the unreliability of the Alco-Sensor), then you may be able to avoid arrest by submitting to the tests to prove your sobriety. If you do get arrested and taken to the police station (or if you are at a DWI checkpoint or with a DWI Bus) and probable cause has been established, then you will be required to submit to the Intox EC/IR II test. This is a more reliable breath test which cannot be refused without consequences, like having your license suspended for one year. The police are required to inform you of this consequence. Rarely, there are arguable reasons for refusing this test, but this can only be determined based on the details of your case. The blood test is something that some officers will try to force on you if you refuse the EC/IR II test.
The important thing to remember is that you should always refuse the PBT and Alco-Sensor.
Q: Is it possible to get a DWI while riding a bicycle?
A: Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to get a DWI while riding a bicycle. You would think that choosing this safer option would be preferable to choosing to drive, but the state of North Carolina doesn’t view things this way. Rather, you will face the same penalty for operating a 25 pound bicycle on the sidewalk at 5 mph while impaired/intoxicated as you would if you were operating a two or three ton vehicle on the highway at 65 mph. This is equally true for riding a horse or driving a golf cart, though using a Segway while intoxicated/impaired is a legally acceptable alternative.
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