While most of us hear the terms “DUI” and “DWI” in reference to someone driving under the influence, many do not know the difference between the two. DUI is the term used to describe someone driving under the influence of alcohol specifically. North Carolina uses the term Driving While Impaired (DWI), which includes impairment resulting from either alcohol or drugs, including both prescribed and illegal substances.
If you are pulled over and found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater (0.04 percent for commercial vehicle operators), or have illegal drugs in your system, you may be considered impaired and charged with DWI. A DWI is an implied consent offense in North Carolina. That means that by operating a vehicle in the state, you are agreeing to provide a breath sample at the request of any law enforcement officer. If you refuse, your license can be revoked and your refusal is considered evidence of impairment.
To be convicted of DWI in North Carolina, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you, the defendant, (1) drove (2) a vehicle (3) on a public vehicular area—such as a street, highway, or parking lot—while under the influence of an impairing substance like alcohol or drugs.
There are a broad range of possible punishments for DWI in North Carolina. If the charges are dismissed or if you plead “Not Guilty” and are found “Not Guilty” at trial, there will be no punishment imposed. If you plead “Guilty” to DWI or if you plead “Not Guilty” and are found to be “Guilty” of DWI after a trial, the judge will conduct a sentencing hearing.
During a DWI sentencing hearing, a judge will hear and weigh evidence on aggravating, grossly aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors make the case a little worse than the typical case. Grossly aggravating factors make the case a lot worse than the typical case. Mitigating factors make the case a little better than the typical case. The penalty for DWI ranges from probation and a fine to up to two years in prison.
The Gravity of a DWI in Wilmington, North Carolina
A DWI is a very serious offense that can have lifelong consequences. You can lose your license, or even your job. Most people charged with DWI realize this, and are immediately overcome with guilt, panic and fear. Wondering what damage they could have caused and what punishment awaits them can be overwhelming and terrifying.
DWI laws in North Carolina are growing increasingly strict in an effort to keep our highways and streets safe. This means that now, more than ever, you need an experienced Wilmington DWI lawyer if you are charged with driving while impaired. Your attorney may be able to show that you are not guilty or minimize the impact of conviction at sentencing.
As a North Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Wilmington’s Speaks Law Firm, we provide our clients with tough, professional representation in criminal defense cases, including DWI charges. While law enforcement and the state may try to intimidate you into pleading guilty, there may be an opportunity for you to be found “Not Guilty” or you may be able to demonstrate mitigating factors that could reduce the affect of a DWI conviction.
For more information, call me toll-free today at 877-593-4233.