Common Questions and Helpful Answers About NC Criminal and DWI Charges

It is natural to have many questions and concerns when charged with a crime in North Carolina. These charges can have serious consequences and long-lasting effects on those charged with their families, so they need reliable answers quickly. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long share their answers to many of these tough questions. Find out their thoughts on DWI, traffic charges, and many other crimes.

  • Page 1
  • How do police decide who to stop for drunk driving in Charlotte?

    Police officers in Mecklenburg County and North Carolina Highway Patrol are trained to look for numerous visual clues and driver behavior patterns when deciding whether to make an investigative stop of a drunk driving suspect. These visual clues, identified by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study on impaired drivers, help officers determine if there is enough reasonable suspicion to justify pulling you over for DWI.

    Outside of DUI checkpoints, police must have reasonable suspicion to legally stop you for drunk driving. 

    How Police Determine Reasonable Suspicion for a DWI Stop

    The visual clues identified by the NHTSA fall into one of the following four categories:

    1. Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position
    2. Speeding and Braking Problems
    3. Vigilance Problems
    4. Judgment Problems

    Visual clues used to identify Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position include:

    • Weaving within a lane
    • Weaving across lane lines
    • Straddling a lane line
    • Swerving
    • Turning with a wide radius
    • Drifting
    • Almost striking a vehicle or other object

    Visual clues used to identify Speeding and Braking Problems include:

    • Stopping problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
    • Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
    • Varying speed
    • Slow speed (10+ mph under limit)

    Visual clues used to identify Vigilance Problems include:

    • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one way
    • Slow response to traffic signals
    • Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
    • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
    • Driving without headlights at night
    • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action

    Visual clues used to identify Judgment Problems include:

    • Following too closely
    • Improper or unsafe lane change
    • Illegal or improper turn (too fast, jerky, sharp)
    • Driving on other than designated roadway
    • Stopping inappropriately in response to officer
    • Inappropriate or unusual behavior (throwing up, arguing)
    • Appearing to be impaired

    If an officer observed you exhibiting any of these behaviors, he may be legally justified in stopping you for drunk driving, but not always. For example, if you make an illegal turn, you have likely violated the law and an officer is likely justified in stopping you on that fact alone. On the other hand, if you were weaving within your own lane only, an officer is not likely going to be justified in stopping you. When a DWI stop is based on the driver weaving within a lane, North Carolina law generally requires weaving within a lane plus some other fact in order for an officer to make a stop.

    Find Out if Your Charlotte DWI Could be Dropped

    If an officer did not have a legal justification for pulling you over, it may be possible to have your drunk driving charge dismissed based on that lack of reasonable suspicion. If you have been arrested for DWI in the Charlotte metro area, contact a Mecklenburg County DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC for a free consultation to evaluate your case and assist in making this determination.

     

  • Will my NC driver’s license be suspended if I refuse to blow or if I'm arrested for DWI?

    It depends. There are numerous instances where your driver's license will be revoked by North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for issues involving or related to driving under the influence. The most common scenarios where the DMV will revoke your driver’s license is when you (i) willfully refuse to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test), (ii) are charged with and/or arrested for driving under the influence, or (iii) are convicted of driving under the influence.

    License Suspension for Willful Refusal to Breathalyzer or Chemical Testing

    The laws of most states, including North Carolina, highly encourage a person suspected of driving under the influence to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test). Such laws do so through the consequences implemented when a person refuses such testing. Specifically, North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.2(a)(1) informs a driving under the influence suspect that they may refuse any chemical test, but doing so will result in their driver’s license being revoked for a period of one year, and in some cases even longer.

    This often means that if you refuse a chemical test, your driver's license will be revoked for one year. It's important to know the difference between the various breath-testing instruments and the consequences of refusing to blow in these devices. For example, an alcohol screening test, often referred to as a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), is a breath test that is typically administered roadside before you are arrested. Refusing to submit to this test is not considered a willful refusal and will not revoke your driver's license for a period of one year. Thus, an alcohol screening test is not considered a chemical test for this purpose. However, a breath test using the Intoxilyzer 5000 or Intox EC/IR II, as well as a blood draw, are considered chemical tests. If you refuse to submit to these tests, your driver's license may be revoked for a period of one year. The Intoxilyzer 500 and Intox EC/IR II are generally administered after you have been arrested and left the scene.

    License Suspension After Being Charged and/or Arrested for DWI

    Under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.5(b), a person driving under the influence is subject to civil revocation of their driver’s license if the following applies:

    1. A law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an implied consent offense;
    2. The person is charged with an implied consent offense;
    3. The law enforcement officer and the chemical analyst comply with the procedures of G.S. 20-16.2 and G.S. 20-139.1 in requiring the person's submission to or procuring a chemical analysis; and
    4. The person
      • Willfully refuses to submit to the chemical analysis;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within a relevant time after the driving;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more at any relevant time after the driving of a commercial motor vehicle; or
      • Has any alcohol concentration at any relevant time after the driving and the person is under 21 years of age.

    When your driver's license is revoked under N.C.G.S. 20-16.5(b), the minimum period of revocation is either 30 or 45 days depending on when your driver’s license was surrendered. If your driver’s license is surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation (generally the day you were charged), the minimum revocation period is 30 days. If your driver’s license is not surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation, the minimum revocation is generally 45 days from the date you surrender your driver’s license. Additionally, if you have a pending driving under the influence charge or other implied consent offense, your driver's license will be suspended indefinitely until all pending charges are resolved.

    License Suspension After a Drunk Driving Conviction

    A conviction for driving under the influence results in a mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-17(a)(2). The length of such driver’s license revocation largely depends on whether you have any prior impaired driving convictions, and if so, the amount of time that has passed since those convictions.

    More information: License Revocation and Restoration After a DWI Conviction in Mecklenburg County

    Contact Our Charlotte DWI License Restoration Lawyers

    If your driver’s license has been revoked due to one of the three common scenarios discussed under this question, it is important to remember that there are often circumstances where a you may be able to legally drive with a limited driving privilege. A DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC can assist you in getting you back on the road as soon as possible.

  • What factors will the court consider when sentencing me for a DUI conviction in Mecklenburg County?

    If you have been convicted of DUI in Mecklenburg County, the level of punishment of you will face is determined by the existence and balancing of what are called grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, or mitigating factors. Several of the following legal terms can be difficult to grasp, so it's always best to consult with a DWI defense attorney if you've been charged.

    Grossly Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    Grossly aggravating factors are seen as more serious than aggravating factors. The State must prove any grossly aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. With that, the first step in determining the level of punishment you will face if convicted of DUI is to find out whether any grossly aggravating factors exist.

    Four grossly aggravating factors:

    1. A prior conviction for a DUI related offense (See N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(24a) for the list of offenses) if:
      • the prior conviction occurred within seven years of the current DUI offense date;
      • the prior conviction occurred after the current DUI offense date, but before or at the same time as the sentencing in the current DUI case; or
      • the prior conviction was in District Court, the conviction was appealed to Superior Court, the appeal was withdrawn or the case was remanded back to District Court, and a new sentencing hearing for the case has not been held.
    2. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while your driver’s license was revoked and the revocation was for a DUI revocation under N.C.G.S. 20-28.2(a).
    3. Your DUI caused serious injury to another person.
    4. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while:
      • A child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle
      • A person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle; or
      • A person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle.

    Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    As mentioned, aggravating factors are considered less serious than grossly aggravating factors. However, like grossly aggravating factors, the State must prove any aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are no grossly aggravating factors, or where grossly aggravating factors exist but the judge decides to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors as well, the next step in DUI sentencing is to determine whether any aggravating factors exist.

    Nine aggravating factors:

    1. Gross impairment of your faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.
    2. Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
    3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident.
    4. Driving while your driver's license was revoked.
    5. Two or more prior convictions of certain motor vehicle offenses for which at least three points are assigned or which subject your driver’s license to revocation, if the convictions occurred within five years of the current offense, or one or more prior convictions of an offense involving DUI that occurred more than seven years before the current offense.
    6. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141.5 of speeding to elude.
    7. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141 of speeding by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit.
    8. Passing a stopped school bus in violation of N.C.G.S. 20-217.
    9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

    Mitigating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    After determining whether any aggravating factors exist, the next step in determining the appropriate level of punishment in DUI sentencing is to see if any mitigating factors exist. It is your burden to prove the existence of any mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence.

    Eight mitigating factors:

    1. Slight impairment of your faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving.
    2. Slight impairment of your faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, with no chemical analysis having been available to the defendant.
    3. Safe and lawful driving at the time of the offense, except for the DUI.
    4. A safe driving record.
    5. Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was within the prescribed dosage.
    6. Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and voluntary participation in the recommended treatment.
    7. Completion of a substance abuse assessment, compliance with its recommendations, and simultaneously maintaining 60 days of continuous abstinence from alcohol consumption, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.
    8. Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

    DUI/DWI Sentencing Levels of Punishment

    The determination of the appropriate DWI sentencing level of punishment involves balancing the presence of any grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors mentioned above. The chart below summarizes the six sentencing levels and the corresponding punishments authorized by N.C.G.S. 20-179.

    Aggravated Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Three or more grossly aggravating factors Up to $10,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 120 days; AND 2-alcohol abstinence of at least 120 days to a maximum of the term of probation, as verified by CAM.
    Imprisonment: 12 months minimum to 36 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    1. Grossly aggravating factor in N.C.G.S. 20-179(c)(4); OR
    2. Two other grossly aggravating factors
    Up to $4,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 30 days; OR 2-imprisonment of at least 10 days and alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 120 days
    Imprisonment: 30 days minimum to 24 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Two

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    One grossly aggravating factor Up to $2,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 7 days; OR 2-alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 90 days
    Imprisonment: 7 days minimum to 12 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Three

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors Up to $1,000 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for at least 72 hours 2-community service for a term of at least 72 hours
    Imprisonment: 72 hours minimum to 6 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Four

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    No aggravating or mitigating factors or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by mitigating factors Up to $500 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for 48 hours 2-community service for a term of 48 hours
    Imprisonment: 48 hours minimum to 120 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Five

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Mitigating factors substantially outweigh aggravating factors Up to $200 If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
    1-imprisonment for 24 hours
    2-community service for a term of 24 hours
    Imprisonment: 24 hours to 60 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

     

    Contact Our Charlotte DUI Lawyers if you have questions regarding a DWI arrest in Mecklenburg County by calling 980-224-4482.

     

  • Can I get the criminal charges against me dismissed?

    If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony in North Carlina, you may face a lengthy jail or prison sentence, large fines, and other punishments if you are convicted. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record that could limit your ability to obtain employment, housing, loans, and more.

    You may have options to avoid these harsh consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to raise strong defenses to the charges you face or employ other strategies that can result in the charges against you being dismissed.

    Reasons the Prosecutor Could Dismiss the Charges

    Proscecutor With Scales of JusticeGoing to a trial and being found not guilty is not the only way to get the charges against you dropped. Your lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to voluntarily dismiss the charges for these reasons:

    • Not enough evidence. The prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard of proof. Your attorney will have an opportunity to review the evidence against you and may be able to convince the prosecutor that they have insufficient evidence to convict you.
    • Suppressed evidence. If the evidence against you was collected improperly or mishandled by the police, your lawyer may be able to file a motion to have the evidence excluded from being used against you. If the motion is granted, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence against you and voluntarily agree to dismiss the charges—even if they believe you are guilty.
    • Changed statements. In many criminal cases, such as domestic violence, a victim’s or witness’ statement could be the key evidence to convict a defendant. If this is true in your criminal case, the prosecutor may be forced to drop the charges if the witness or victim refuses to cooperate or changes their story.

    Three Programs in North Carolina That Can Result in the Charges Against You Being Dropped

    Another option you have is to successfully complete a special program offered in North Carolina that would result in the charges against you being dismissed. However, the prosecutor would have to agree to allow you to enter into one of these programs, which is not guaranteed.

    You have a much greater chance of the prosecutor agreeing to this proposal if you are represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney. Here are the three main programs that could help you get the charges dropped.

    Deferred Prosecution

    The deferred prosecution program would allow for the charges against you to be dropped after you successfully complete certain conditions set while you are on probation. This could include paying restitution to the victim, completing community service, drug testing, and not committing any other crimes. The eligibility requirements for this program are:

    • You must have been charged with a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony.
    • You must not have been on probation before or been convicted of another offense.
    • The victim must be notified of your agreement with the prosecutor and not object to it.
    • You must be unlikely to commit any other criminal offenses.

    Conditional Discharge

    The conditional discharge program is similar to the deferred prosecution program. However, you must plead guilty or be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony before being eligible for this program. In addition, the following requirements must be met:

    • The victim of the crime must be notified of this possible sentence and be given an opportunity to be heard.
    • You cannot have been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony involving moral turpitude.
    • You must not have ever been placed on probation.
    • You are unlikely to commit any other crime other than a Class 3 misdemeanor.

    Conditional Discharges in Drug Offense Cases

    If you were arrested for a drug crime, you may be eligible for another conditional discharge program for drug offense convictions. This program may be an option if you were charged with a misdemeanor offense for possession of a Schedule I to VI controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance, or misdemeanor possession of drug or marijuana paraphernalia. You must also have no prior felony convictions, no convictions of Article 5 of N.C.G.S. Chapter 90, and have not received a conditional discharge in the past.

    Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Mecklenburg County? Our knowledgeable criminal defense team is here to aggressively defend you and help you enter in one of these or other programs that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What defenses could I raise if I was charged with hit and run driving?

    A hit and run offense is a serious crime in North Carolina, and there is more than one way a driver can violate this law. If you have been arrested for causing a hit and run accident, you could be facing a lengthy jail or prison sentence and large fines. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record that can affect your Wooden Hit and Run Signability to obtain a job, housing, education and more.

    If you want to avoid the harsh consequences you face, you need to retain an experienced traffic ticket lawyer as soon as possible. They can mount a strong defense that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a much less serious offense.

    What Is a Hit and Run Offense?

    Hit and run can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in North Carolina. There are six ways that a person can commit this offense in our state. Under N.C.G.S. 20-166, it is a crime to do the following:

    • Failing to stop or remain at the scene of an accident when someone was seriously injured or killed
    • Failing to stop or remain at the crash scene when a victim suffered a personal injury
    • Failing to provide information or assistance when someone suffered a personal injury in the accident
    • Failing to stop at the scene when there was property damage but no apparent personal injuries or death caused by the collision
    • Failing to provide information when there was no obvious personal injuries or death but there was property damage as a result of the crash
    • Failing to notify the police of a reportable accident

    Penalties for Hit and Run

    North Carolina follows a complex sentencing system that takes into account the circumstances of the crime and the defendant’s past criminal history. If convicted, an individual could face these penalties:

    • Misdemeanor. Hit and run is often charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. A defendant could be sentenced to up to 120 days in jail and a fine.
    • Felony. Hit and run would be charged as a Class H felony if a victim suffered personal injuries and a Class F felony if the accident resulted in serious injuries or death. The punishment for a Class H felony is 4 to 25 months in jail or prison and an expensive fine. If the conviction is for a Class F felony, the sentence could include 10 to 41 months in prison and a hefty fine.

    In addition to these penalties, a defendant could have their driver’s license revoked for up to two years without the right to obtain a restricted license.

    Defenses to Hit and Run Offenses

    Raising the right defenses is crucial when fighting hit and run charges. The right defense can establish that you did not commit the crime or raise reasonable doubt, which can prevent the prosecutor from proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt—which is a high standard of proof to meet.

    At Browning & Long, PLLC, our knowledgeable lawyers are former prosecutors who understand how the prosecution will try to convict someone charged with a hit and run crime. We know how important it is to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding a hit and run arrest to develop a defense strategy tailored to achieve the best result for our clients. Here are some defenses that can work in these cases—even if you believe you are guilty.

    Lack of Knowledge

    Knowledge is a key element that the prosecutor must prove to convict you of causing a hit and run accident. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to argue:

    • You did not know that you were involved in an accident.
    • You did not know that the collision caused any property damage, personal injuries, or death.

    Leaving the Scene Temporarily

    Depending on your situation, you may be able to argue that you only left the scene temporarily and intended to return. You would need to show that you had a legitimate reason for leaving.

    Responding to an Emergency

    If you got in a hit and run accident while driving due to an emergency, you may be able to argue that this was a valid reason not to stop. This defense could work if you were driving to the hospital or urgent care facility due to a medical emergency someone else or you were experiencing or you had another family or other crisis.

    Mistaken Identity

    In a hit and run accident, the accused must be identified by the police, victim, or witnesses in some fashion. It may be possible to challenge your identification as the person who committed the crime even if you believe you are guilty.

    False Accusation

    Unfortunately, the police make mistakes and sometimes falsely accuse people of a crime they did not commit. If you are innocent of causing a hit and run accident, proving that you were falsely accused could result in the charges against you being dismissed.

    Were you arrested for hit and run in Mecklenburg County? Call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we will aggressively fight the charges you face.

     

  • Can I be charged with DWI if my BAC was less than 0.08 percent?

    Many North Carolina residents are under the misconception that they cannot be charged with DWI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.08 percent. However, this is not true in our state.

    Blood Alcohol Content Keyboard ButtonIn addition, you could face the same harsh punishments if you are convicted of DWI when your BAC is less than 0.08 percent as you would face if it is over this amount. However, you may have strong defenses that you can use to fight the charges so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense in a plea agreement with the prosecutor.

    When Can You Be Charged With DWI If Your BAC Was Less Than 0.08 Percent?

    Under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1, it is against the law to drive a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or other public place while you are intoxicated. One way to violate this law is to drive with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. However, a person can also be charged with DWI when their BAC is less than 0.08 percent in the following situations:

    • Impairment. An individual can be arrested for DWI if they are driving under the influence of an impairing substance.
    • Controlled substance. DWI can be charged when there is any amount of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, in their system.
    • Commercial drivers. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard in North Carolina. They can be arrested for DWI if their blood alcohol content is 0.04 percent or higher.
    • Drivers under 21 years old. North Carolina has a zero-tolerance law for drivers who are under 21 years old. They could be convicted of DWI if they test positive for any amount of alcohol in their system.

    When Can You Be Charged With Driving Under the Influence of an Impairing Substance?

    If an individual’s BAC is less than 0.08 percent, the police may try to charge them with DWI for driving under the influence of an impairing substance. In order to be convicted, the prosecutor would need to prove that their physical and mental capacities were appreciably impaired because of the consumption of alcohol or other substances, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, or marijuana.

    Proving a DWI case based on appreciable impairment will be heavily based on the testimony of the police officer who made the arrest. Here are ways that they may try to prove this:

    • Driving. One way to establish impairment is to show that the individual was driving unsafely. Speeding, weaving between lanes, crossing the center line, and driving too slowly may be evidence used by law enforcement officials.
    • Signs of intoxication. The officer could testify that they observed signs that the driver was intoxicated when they were pulled over. Signs of drunk or drugged driving include slurred speech, an odor of alcohol on the person’s breath, red or watery eyes, confusion, stumbling, or falling down.
    • Field sobriety test. If the individual agreed to take field sobriety tests, the officer could testify as to how they failed the tests to show that they were significantly impaired when driving.

    Penalties for DWI When Your BAC Is Less Than 0.08 Percent

    North Carolina uses a complicated sentencing system that takes into consideration a number of mitigating and aggravating factors, such as reckless driving, speeding at least 30 miles over the posted speed limit, and driving with a revoked license. This means that you can face a wide range of punishments when you are sentenced if you are convicted of DWI—even if your BAC is less than 0.08 percent. Here are a few of the punishments you could face:

    • Aggravated level one. If there are three or more grossly aggravating factors, you could be sentenced to a jail sentence of 12 to 36 months, a fine of up to $10,000, and probation after serving 120 days in jail.
    • Level one. If there are two grossly aggravating factors, you may have to serve 30 days to 24 months in jail and pay a fine not to exceed $4,000.
    • Level five. Level five is the least harsh level of punishment you could face. If your mitigating factors, such as having a clean driving record or a BAC of 0.09 percent or less, outweigh any grossly aggravating ones, you could be sentenced to 24 hours to 60 days in jail and a fine of $200.

    If you were charged with DWI in Mecklenburg County, you need a skilled DWI attorney who will aggressively defend you. To learn how we can help you, call our Charlotte office to schedule your free, initial consultation.

     

  • Could a DWI conviction affect my ability to get into college?

    You could face harsh penalties if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina, which can include up to 36 months in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 for the most serious level of punishment. In addition, there are many other long-term consequences of a conviction. One ramification is that it may affect your ability to get admitted into college and other aspects of your college life.

    What Is DWI in North Carolina?

    College Student Working on HomeworkIt is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or public place while intoxicated in our state. Under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1, an individual can be arrested for DWI for the following:

    • They were driving under the influence of an impairing substance.
    • They were driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
    • They were driving while there was any amount of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin in their system.
    • If they are a commercial driver, they were driving with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.
    • If they are under 21 years old, North Carolina’s no-tolerance law would apply, and they could be convicted of DWI if there was any amount of alcohol in their system.

    How a DWI Conviction Could Affect College Admissions

    Being convicted of DWI can have an effect on a person’s ability to be accepted for admission by a college. This can be of special concern to seniors in high school and other young adults who are more likely to attend an institute of higher learning. However, individuals seeking admission into a master’s program, medical, nursing, or law school, and older adults trying to obtain a college degree can also have their plan impacted.

    It is very likely that the college application will ask if the applicant was ever convicted of a crime. DWI is a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina and would need to be disclosed.

    The policies of the university or college and the severity of the DWI charges will affect how the conviction could affect the decision of whether to approve an application. The college could make one of these decisions:

    • Deny the application. If the college has a strict policy against any convictions for DWI, they could deny an individual’s application. However, most do not have such a firm rule, especially if this is the first conviction for drinking when driving.
    • Consider the conviction. The most common effect of a DWI conviction is that the college admissions department would consider it when deciding whether to accept or reject the application. If a student is applying to a university that gets many more applications than spots available for the upcoming year, it is more likely that the conviction will negatively affect their ability to be admitted.
    • Ignore the DWI. Some colleges may have a policy of not considering a past DWI when deciding whether to accept a student.

    Will You Be Expelled If You Are Arrested for DWI While in College?

    It is unlikely that you would be expelled from college if you are convicted of DWI and it is your first offense. If you have prior DWI arrests, other convictions or were found guilty of a felony DWI crime, expulsion may be more likely.

    However, you may be placed on probation, depending on the school’s policies. You could face expulsion if you are convicted of another DWI or other crime, violate the college’s rules and policies, or do not maintain a certain grade point average.

    Can a DWI Conviction Have an Impact on Financial Aid?

    Being found guilty of DWI could impact your ability to obtain a scholarship or financial aid. If you are already enrolled in college, you may have a duty to report your conviction and could lose your scholarship and financial aid. In addition, you may have to move if you live in campus housing.

    Contact a DWI Attorney in Charlotte

    Were you arrested for DWI in Mecklenburg County? You may have strong defenses that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious outcome—even if you are guilty of DWI.

    If you want to fight the charges you face and achieve the best possible outcome given your situation, you need the help of an experienced DWI lawyer. To learn about our track record of success in defending clients like you and how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What defenses could help me if I’m charged with domestic violence?

    Domestic Violence Law Book With a Judge's GavelYou face serious misdemeanor or felony charges if you are arrested for a domestic violence crime, such as assault on a female or assault with a deadly weapon. If convicted, you could face a lengthy jail or prison sentence and have a permanent criminal record. Because of the harsh consequences of a conviction, you must take your charges seriously and mount a strong defense to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case.

    Defenses to Domestic Assault Crimes

    You will need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. They will be able to identify the strongest defenses given your particular situation. Common successful defenses include:

    • Mistaken identity. The mistaken identity defense could be a strong one if you are innocent of the crime you were charged with committing and have an alibi that proves you were somewhere else when the domestic assault was being committed.
    • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor must prove all elements of the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. You may be able to argue that they have not met this burden of proof if the victim does not have any physical injuries or there is no damage to the property where the assault occurred.
    • Self-defense. If you were defending yourself from an attack by the victim, you could raise self-defense to fight the charges you face.
    • False allegations. In some cases, a person will falsely accuse their current or former partner or spouse of domestic assault because of other issues going on in the relationship. If you were falsely accused of this crime, you need the help of a skilled lawyer to uncover the evidence that proves this.
    • Consent. Consent of the victim to the domestic assault is a much rarer defense. However, if it applies to your unique circumstances, you may be able to argue that the person accusing you consented to the domestic violence.

    Were you charged with a domestic violence offense? Our knowledgeable criminal defense legal team can mount a strong defense strategy that can help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense—even if you are guilty. To learn more about how we will aggressively fight for your rights, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • Can I be charged with DWI if I was intoxicated while I was a supervising driver for a teen driver?

    Teen Driver With Her Intoxicated Father as a PassengerTechnically, you cannot be charged with DWI if you are intoxicated and supervising a young driver. However, you could be arrested for impaired supervision, which is very similar to a DWI offense and carries similar penalties under North Carolina law.

    What Is Impaired Supervision?

    N.C.G.S. 20-12.1 makes it against the law for an individual to serve as a supervising driver or instructor while intoxicated. The offense of impaired supervision can be committed by acting as a supervising driver for a teen driver under one of the following circumstances:

    • Being under the influence of an impairing substance
    • Having consumed enough alcohol that the individual’s blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher

    Who Is Permitted to Be a Supervising Driver?

    Before a teen obtains a driver’s license, they must be issued a learner’s permit and are only permitted to operate a vehicle while a supervising driver is in the vehicle beside them. In order to be considered a supervising driver, the person must be a parent, grandparent, or guardian of the young driver or a responsible person who is approved to act as a supervising driver by the teen’s parent or guardian.

    What Are the Penalties for Impaired Supervision?

    Impaired supervision is an implied consent offense and is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, a person can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail, a fine, and court costs. In addition, their driver’s license would be immediately suspended at the time of their arrest as it would be if they were the intoxicated driver and arrested for DWI.

    Were you charged with DWI or impaired supervision in Mecklenburg County? Call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced DWI lawyers to learn how we can help you mount an aggressive defense strategy that could result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

     

  • Am I eligible for a conditional discharge if I was charged with a drug crime?

    Discharge Block Letters With a Gavel and the Scales of JusticeIf you plead guilty or are found guilty of a drug offense, one option the judge has is to sentence you to a conditional discharge. If the judge granted this less serious punishment, you would be placed on probation for a certain length of time and must follow all the conditions set by the court. At the end of your probation, your case would be dismissed if you successfully completed it.

    When Can You Obtain a Conditional Discharge for a Drug Offense?

    There are special rules under N.C.G.S.90-96 when a person is eligible for a conditional discharge in a drug crime case. Under subsection (a), defendants could be granted this relief for the following offenses:

    • Misdemeanor possession of a Schedule I-VI controlled substance
    • Felony possession of a controlled substance
    • Misdemeanor possession of drug or marijuana paraphernalia

    In addition, a defendant must meet these requirements:

    • Have no prior felony convictions
    • Have no conviction under Article 5 of N.C.G.S. Chapter 90
    • Have never received a conditional discharge under 90-96 or 90-113.14

    A conditional discharge under subsection (a) is mandatory if the defendant consents to it unless the court determines upon the written objection of the prosecutor that they should not receive this remedy for reasons associated with their crime.

    A judge also has the discretion to grant a conditional discharge under subsection (1a) of N.C.G.S. 90-96. Any prior convictions and prior conditional discharges that are more than seven years old would not count in determining a defendant’s eligibility for this type of dismissal. These conditions must be met:

    • The defendant must be placed on probation for a minimum of one year.
    • The defendant must enroll in and complete an approved drug counseling program within 150 days of being placed on probation unless there is no school is available or there are other extenuating circumstances.

    Were you arrested for a drug offense in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can mount a strong defense to fight the charges you face and can help you decide if a conditional discharge is the right option for you. Call our office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation to learn more about your options.