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.

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  • Will I be required to install an interlock ignition device on my vehicle after a DWI conviction?

    Charlotte Resident Using an Interlock Ignition While in a CarIf you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, your driver’s license could be suspended for 30 days for a first conviction and for longer for a subsequent conviction or failure to consent to a breathalyzer test at the time you were arrested. Losing your ability to drive can have long-term consequences on your ability to work and your ability to get where you need to go. In order to get your driving privileges restored, the court could require you to install an interlock ignition device.

    What Is an Interlock Ignition Device?

    An interlock ignition device is an alcohol-testing device that attaches to your dashboard and is similar to what is used to administer a breathalyzer test. You cannot turn on your vehicle until you blow into the device, and it measures your blood alcohol content. If it registers any level of alcohol, your ignition will not start. It also requires you to take the test at random times when you are driving. If you fail the test, your vehicle will shut down. In order to restart it, you would need to contact the system’s provider to reset it.

    When Is an Ignition Interlock Device Required?

    If this is a first offense DWI, you probably will not be required to install an ignition interlock device. However, the court would order it installed in these situations:

    • You were convicted of DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.15 percent.
    • You were convicted of more than one DWI during a seven-year period.

    Who Pays for Installation and Maintenance of This Device?

    Unfortunately, you must pay for the installation and monthly rental and maintenance fees for the ignition interlock device and must obtain it from a court-approved facility. This can be costly over time.

    Have you been charged with DWI in Charlotte? Call us or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced DWI attorneys. We will be happy to discuss your case with you and how we can help ensure that the penalties you face are as minor as possible.


  • What is a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in North Carolina?

    North Carolina Do Not Resuscitate OrderIn North Carolina, a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is a medical order signed by a physician that alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. This means that if you have DNR in place, health care professionals will not try to revive you by using CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. The DNR is only a decision to withhold CPR, not the administration of other medical treatments such as a feeding tube, surgery, blood transfusions, and pain medicine. These latter medical treatments, as well as other life-prolonging measures, are typically addressed in a person’s living will, either on its own or as part of a health care power of attorney. 

    When is a DNR Necessary?

    Unlike a living will and a health care power of attorney, a DNR is not a necessary component to everyone’s North Carolina estate plan. In fact, careful consideration should be given before having a DNR implemented. In most circumstances, a DNR is used only for the very elderly, the frail, and the critically ill for whom it wouldn't make sense to perform CPR. Additionally, not understanding the difference between a living will and a DNR may result in medical treatments being administered, or withheld, in a manner inconsistent with your desires. 

    It is advisable to discuss the option of a DNR with both your North Carolina estate planning attorney, who may be able to utilize other legal tools to better address your goals and objectives, and your physician, who would be the person who needs to prepare and sign the DNR order, to ensure that your health care decisions are planned effectively. 

    Talk To an Estate Planning Attorney

    Our estate planning attorneys are here to answer your questions and help achieve your goals and objectives. Call our North Carolina office today at (980) 207-3355, or contact us online, to discuss your estate planning needs.


  • Is it illegal to text and drive in North Carolina?

    Man Texting While Driving Through North CarolinaAny form of distracted driving is unsafe, but using a cell phone while driving is one of the most dangerous types of distractions that lead to accidents. In North Carolina, it is illegal to text and drive. Violating this law can result in stiff fines and harsh penalties if you are a school bus or commercial truck driver.

    What Is North Carolina’s Law on Texting and Driving?

    While most motorists over 18 years old are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, texting while driving is banned. North Carolina is a “primary law” state, which means that the police can stop you and issue you a ticket solely for violating this law. It is illegal for drivers to:

    • Manually enter letters or text in a cell phone in an effort to communicate with another individual
    • Read an e-mail or text transmitted to or stored in an electronic device

    There are exceptions to this ban on texting and driving. It will not apply in these situations:

    • The driver is lawfully parked or stopped
    • The person is a police officer, firefighter, or ambulance driver texting while they are performing official duties
    • The technology used is a factory-installed or after-purchased GPS
    • The person is using voice-operated technology

    Fines and Drivers' License Points

    A violation of this traffic law is a civil infraction that is punishable by a $100 fine. A person will not have drivers’ license points placed on his driving record or face higher insurance costs.                                                                               

    If the individual violating the texting ban is a school bus driver, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, not a civil infraction. The penalty is a fine of at least $100.

    There are more severe penalties if the person is driving a commercial vehicle. Commercial truck drivers are also prohibited from texting and driving under federal regulations. Two convictions within three years will result in the person’s commercial license being suspended for 60 days while three convictions within this time period could result in a 120-day revocation.

    Speak To a Traffic Ticket Lawyer Today

    Did you receive a traffic ticket for texting while driving in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you achieve the best possible outcome with fewer long-term consequences. Call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free consultation.


  • Do I need an attorney if I have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina?

    Do You Know How a Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help YouYou may consider trying to save money by attending your court hearing for your reckless driving charges on your own. However, retaining an experienced reckless driving attorney is in your best interests, and it may be more affordable to do so than you may think

    Why You Need to Retain an Experienced Reckless Driving Attorney

    You may not realize it, but you do have options for fighting a reckless driving charge even if you believe that you are guilty. Here are reasons why you want an experienced reckless driving attorney at your side:

    • Misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is not a traffic offense in North Carolina. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, it will result in a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, increased insurance costs, and a possible driver’s license suspension. You may be able to avoid some of these harsh consequences if you are represented by an attorney.
    • Possible defenses. You may have defenses to the charges, such as speedometer calibration, GPS defense, lack of probable cause to stop you, and other violations of your constitutional rights, even if you are guilty. A skilled lawyer will be able to identify these defenses and use them to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
    • Court hearing. You are required to appear at a court hearing when charged with reckless driving in North Carolina. However, your attorney may be able to attend your hearing without you so that you do not have to miss work and lose wages.
    • Plea bargain. An attorney will be able to enter into a more favorable plea agreement if that is in your best interest. He may be able to use facts in your case, such as a clean driving record or successful completion of a driver improvement course, to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious traffic offense.

    Contact a Reckless Driving Attorney

    At Browning & Long, PLLC, we are committed to aggressively fighting for the rights of our clients facing reckless driving charges. We have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, which gives us a greater understanding of the strategies that they employ in these cases. To learn more about your possible defenses and how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.


  • What defenses could I have after being arrested for shoplifting?

    You May Have a Defense to Your Shoplifting ChargesIf you have been charged with shoplifting as a misdemeanor or felony in Charlotte, it would be a big mistake not to take the charges seriously. The punishment could be a jail or prison sentence, a large fine, and a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, even if you are guilty, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    Defenses That Can Help You Fight Shoplifting Charges

    There are a number of defenses that can be present in any criminal case, such as the failure to give you your Miranda warnings or questioning you after you invoke your right to remain silent that could be applicable to your arrest. However, there are also defenses specific to the crimes of shoplifting and what must be proven to convict you of this offense in North Carolina. The prosecutor must prove these two elements:

    • You intentionally concealed or possessed items for sale.
    • You intended to permanently deprive the business of the item without paying for it.

    You will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to identify and raise the defenses that you have to shoplifting charges. Some effective ones that he may use to defend you include:

    • Lack of intent. Because the crime of shoplifting requires an intent on your part to intentionally conceal and possess the goods and to deprive the store of them, your lawyer may challenge this aspect of the prosecutor’s case. He may present evidence that you did not intend to steal the items. Depending on the facts in your case, he may be able to show that you accidentally forgot to pay or that you tried to go back and return the merchandise as soon as you realized your mistake.
    • Challenging witnesses. In some cases, there is video footage of the shoplifting. However, the prosecutor may rely on witness testimony as to how they saw the crime being committed. These witnesses can be store employees, other customers, or bystanders. A skilled attorney may be able to challenge their observations as unreliable or completely false.

    Facing Shoplifting Charges?

    Have you been arrested for shoplifting in Charlotte? Our skilled legal team can help you build a strong defense to the charges that you face and will aggressively fight for the best outcome possible. To learn more about your defenses and options, schedule your free consultation today.


  • Can my DWI charge be reduced to wet reckless in North Carolina?

    Having Your Charge Reduced to a Wet Reckless ChargeA DWI conviction comes with harsh penalties, such as a jail sentence, fine of up to $10,000, driver’s license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. If you are charged with this offense, it is essential that you retain an experienced DWI attorney who can build a strong defense to charges you face. In some states, prosecutors will reduce a DWI to something called a Wet Reckless, however, in North Carolina this in not an option.

    When Can Your Charges Be Pled Down to a Wet Reckless Offense?

    In other states or jurisdictions, a wet reckless is a reckless driving offense involving alcohol. It is less serious than a DWI conviction but a more serious offense than a reckless driving conviction that does not involve alcohol. Prosecutors consider reducing a DWI to a wet reckless if this is your first offense of DWI and mitigating circumstances are present. These mitigating circumstances include:

    • This is your first offense of DWI in North Carolina and any other state.
    • Your impairment was due to alcohol and not any other substance, such as drugs.
    • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 1.0 percent or lower.
    • You have a safe driving record.
    • You were polite and cooperative when arrested.

    Why Is a Wet Reckless Not an Option in North Carolina?

    In North Carolina, there is not such thing as a wet reckless. The Legislature did not create a crime called a wet reckless or any other lesser included offense to a DWI. Accordingly, North Carolina District Attorney's do not offer to reduce DWI charges. They either proceed to trial on the DWI charge or dismiss the case if there is insufficient evidence.

    How an Experienced DWI Attorney Can Help.

    Although a DWI charge will not be reduced in North Carolina, if you a charged with multiple crimes along with your DWI an experienced attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to have those charges dismissed pursuant to a plea. Additionally, an experienced DWI attorney will thoroughly examine all aspects of your DWI investigation to determine if a mistake was made or a right was violated. If so, a skilled attorney will be able to advocate for a dismissal of your DWI charge or take it to trial.      

    Contact Us for Help Today

    If you have been arrested for DWI in Charlotte, you need an experienced DWI attorney on your side if you hope to successfully fight a DWI charge. To learn how our skilled lawyers can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.


  • What are defenses to speeding to elude arrest charges?

    Speeding to Elude Arrest in North Carolina and Possible DefensesIn North Carolina, speeding to elude arrest is a serious offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Fortunately, you may have defenses to these charges even if you believe that you are guilty. However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to build a strong defense so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    What Is Speeding to Elude Arrest?

    It is considered speeding to elude arrest to operate a motor vehicle on a highway, street, or public road while fleeing or attempting to flee a police officer who is performing his duties. It can be charged as a felony if at least two of a list of aggravating factors are present. Some of these factors include:

    • Driving more than 15 mph over the speed limit
    • Having a gross impairment of a person’s faculties due to intoxication caused by drug or alcohol use or having a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent or higher
    • Engaging in reckless driving under North Carolina laws
    • Passing a school bus that is stopped

    The penalties can include a jail or prison sentence, fines, and driver’s license suspension.

    Common Defenses to Speeding to Elude Arrest

    Fortunately, you may have defenses that can help you avoid the harsh penalties that you face. These defenses may result in the prosecutor not being able to meet the burden of proof for you to be found guilty. Some of these defenses include:

    • Lack of knowledge. You must have known that the police officer was ordering you to pull over or was otherwise pursuing you in order to be convicted. If you can show that you had a lack of knowledge that you were being stopped, this could be a strong defense.
    • Official capacity of an officer. You are only required to pull over if a police officer in his official capacity orders you to do so. If you did not know that the law enforcement official was acting in his official capacity, you may not have been obligated to stop.
    • Self-defense. While a rare defense, you could claim you were acting in self-defense by fleeing if you were doing so to protect another person or yourself.
    • No mitigating factors. If you are being charged with a felony, you may be able to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor if you can show that no aggravating factors were present.

    These are defenses specific to this crime. You may have other defenses that a skilled attorney can raise for you.

    Were You Charged With Speeding To Elude Arrest?

    Being charged with speeding to elude arrest could result in your imprisonment and in you having a permanent criminal record. If you face these charges, we are here to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to your arrest, build a strong defense, and fight for the best possible outcome. To learn more about how we can help, call our office to schedule your free consultation.


  • Can the police search my car after pulling me over for driving while impaired in North Carolina?

    When Do the Police Need a Warrant to Search Your Car?Under the United States and North Carolina constitutions, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, this means that the police must obtain a search warrant before searching your vehicle. However, there are exceptions to this rule when a police officer stops you for driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina.

    When Can the Police Search Your Vehicle Without a Search Warrant When Stopping You for DWI?

    There are a number of exceptions to the rule against unreasonable searches and seizures that allow the police to search a vehicle without a warrant when stopping someone for DWI. These include the following:

    • Probable cause. If the police have probable cause to believe that you are participating in criminal activity or that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, they can search your vehicle without a warrant. Examples of probable cause include seeing something in plain view, such as a gun or drugs, smelling marijuana or alcohol in your vehicle, or observing your bloodshot eyes or an odor of alcohol.
    • Searches incident to your arrest. The police may be allowed to search your vehicle incident to your arrest to look for guns or other evidence relating to your arrest.
    • Consent. If you consent to the search of your vehicle, the police would be permitted to do so. You should not consent to the search of your vehicle as you would be waiving your right to challenge the search if evidence is found that can be used against you. Your refusal to permit a search without a search warrant cannot be used against you later in court.

    What Should You Do If You’re Pulled Over?

    If the police stop you, remain calm and polite. You should stop your vehicle, roll down the window, and put your hands on your steering wheel where they are in plain view. You should also say as little as possible while answering the officer’s basic questions.

    Have you been arrested for DWI in Mecklenburg County? Our experienced DWI defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you build a strong defense to the charges that you face. Fill out our online form or call our Charlotte office to schedule your free initial consultation.


  • What evidence can help in my reckless driving case in North Carolina?

    Do You Know What Evidence Could Help a Reckless Driving Charge?If you have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you must understand that you did not receive a traffic citation. You have been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense with a possible sentence of time in jail, a fine, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record. To build a strong defense and attack the prosecutor’s case against you, you will need evidence that supports your defenses.

    Evidence That May Help You Fight the Reckless Driving Charges You Face

    Even if you believe that you were guilty, you may have defenses to the reckless driving charges you face that can result in the charges being dismissed or being reduced to a much less serious offense. Some of the evidence that you may need includes:

    • Speedometer calibration. Many reckless driving charges in North Carolina are based on driving over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour. A speedometer calibration can help you prove that you were not driving as fast as the police officer claims.
    • GPS evidence. If you were charged with only traveling a little over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour, obtaining GPS location data along with a speedometer calibration can be effective to show that you were traveling at a slower speed. At a minimum, this may enable you to get the charges against you reduced to a less serious offense.
    • Evidence of improper signs. When the speed limit signs near where you were charged with reckless driving were missing, vandalized, or hidden, this could be a defense to a reckless driving charge, especially if you were driving in an unfamiliar area. Photographs of the signs and the area in general can help you prove that you had no way of knowing the speed limit.
    • Medical records. If you were speeding due to a medical emergency, such as experiencing a stroke or heart attack, you would want to obtain medical records substantiating a passenger’s or your health condition that required you to speed.
    • Witness testimony. Witness testimony can be valuable to substantiate your defenses, such as that you were not the driver, you were not racing if this is the basis of your charge, or you were speeding due to a medical emergency.
    • Evidence of safety commitment. Your sentence may be less harsh if you can show a commitment to safe driving. Evidence of this can include showing a clean driving record prior to these charges or completion of a driver improvement course.

    Contact Our Charlotte Reckless Driving Attorneys Today

    You need the assistance of an experienced reckless driving attorney in Charlotte to help you identify the defenses that you have and collect the evidence that you will need to aggressively fight the reckless driving charges that you face. Start an online chat today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your charges and the strong defenses you may have.


  • How can I challenge my blood test results in my DWI case?

    Challenging Your DWI Blood Test ResultsIn North Carolina, a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) comes with very harsh penalties, such as large fines, a jail sentence, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, DWI is a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina and a conviction would result in a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, there are defenses to these charges that you could have even if you are guilty of driving when intoxicated that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. One powerful defense may be to challenge the results of your blood test.

    Blood Tests in North Carolina DWI Criminal Cases

    In North Carolina, police officers are permitted to obtain the amount of alcohol on your breath or blood as evidence to be used against you in a DWI case. The amount of alcohol on your breath is tested through the use of a breath testing machine, and the amount in your blood is tested through a blood test. If you do not consent to this testing, the police would need to obtain a warrant to conduct the test, which they would often obtain. However, under North Carolina’s implied consent laws, you imply consent to this testing and would face harsh penalties for refusing the test, such as automatic revocation of your driver’s license and your refusal being used as evidence in your DWI case.

    Common Challenges to Blood Test Results in DWI Cases in NC

    A blood test is conducted by drawing your blood and testing it, and it tends to be the most reliable testing procedure. However, this does not mean that the results are always right. If you are successful in challenging the result, the prosecutor may not be able to use the most important piece of evidence against you, and the charges against you may be dismissed. Questions regarding the reliability of the tests may also help to obtain a more favorable plea agreement where the charges are reduced to a much less serious offense.

    There are a number of defenses to blood test results, and which one is applicable in your case will depend on your facts. Your experienced DWI attorney will be able to identify the best defenses in your case. Here are some defenses that may apply to your case:

    • Lack of qualifications. The person administering the test must be qualified to do so. Your attorney can examine the training and experience of the person who administered your test to see if this is a basis for a defense. Even if the person was qualified, if there are other questions of his competency, such as cases of his falsifying records, this could lead to challenging the use of the blood test against you.
    • Chain of custody. In DWI cases, the police are required to follow specific guidelines in handling the evidence—including the blood drawn from you and your test results. To ensure that they were not tampered with, the police must account for them at all times or the chain of custody may be broken. Mislabeling the test tube or misplacing it for a period of time are two examples of when the chain of custody might be broken. If the chain of custody is broken in your case, the blood test result could be excluded from evidence in your criminal case.
    • Calibration. Blood testing machines often need to be calibrated, like breathalyzers, to ensure that they work properly. In some cases, the calibration of the equipment used in a blood test may not be properly done and could lead to an error in the results. In this situation, the test results could be excluded or the accuracy questioned.
    • Storage. Blood samples must be properly stored or it can result in elevated error rates. The yeast, sugar, and bacteria in the blood can ferment if not stored correctly—which can lead to inaccurate test results. If your blood sample was improperly stored, the results may be inadmissible.

    Let Us Help Raise All Your Defenses in Your DWI Case

    Were you charged with DWI? An experienced DWI defense attorney can help you aggressively fight the charges you face. We have the added benefit of being former prosecutors so we understand how they approach these cases. To learn more about how we can help you build a strong defense, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.