North Carolina DWI Lawyer

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North Carolina DWI Defense Attorney

Are you facing DWI charges in North Carolina? If so, you do not have to handle them alone. A skilled North Carolina DWI lawyer can help. At LAWSMITH, The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, our DWI lawyers are well-versed in defending individuals who have been charged with driving while impaired (DWI), and we want to reassure you that you do not have to go through this without a strong defense.

Our Greensboro criminal lawyers know that a DWI conviction can have serious and life-altering consequences. These consequences vary depending on factors such as your age and driving history, but would likely include a driver’s license suspension, fines, jail time, elevated car insurance rates and community service. Hiring a capable attorney who is experienced in navigating the DWI process can be helpful in minimizing the severity of any potential penalties.

Get Powerful DWI Defense In Your Corner

At The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, we understand that when it comes to DWI charges, the stakes are high. Our firm has a broad knowledge base regarding not only the law but also the particular complexities of DWI defense. We help our clients limit the impact a DWI has on their lives. Our attorneys believe in every individual’s right to a fair trial against criminal charges, and we’re dedicated to helping you find the right legal defense.

Come to our firm if you have questions about:

  • Driving privileges
  • CDL DWI (Commercially Licensed Driver DWI)
  • BWI (Boating While Impaired)
  • DWI
  • DWI penalties
  • Under 21 DWI

Whether you need a legal professional to walk you through the potential penalties you could be facing or want to know how a DWI could affect your commercial driver’s license, our firm is here to help. We have many years of collective experience in criminal defense. We have represented countless clients in the past and have been given a 10.0 rating on Avvo and the Clients’ Choice Award for DWI. Get counsel from our award-winning firm today!

Roadside Tests

In addition to the points outlined above, we can examine the details of pre-arrest and roadside sobriety tests on behalf of our clients. These are the tests that are performed by law enforcement when an individual is suspected of driving while impaired.

Field sobriety tests are used to determine cognitive ability, balance, and focus. Preliminary breathalyzer tests can also be used to determine the extent of the intoxication. These tests are frequently used as a key piece of evidence to convict a person of DWI. Unfortunately, they can also be subjective, affected by outside factors, or administered incorrectly.

After an arrest, you may also undergo other chemical tests. You cannot refuse these tests without facing legal penalties under the state’s implied consent law. Although less common, these tests can also be wrongly administered or mishandled, resulting in bad evidence.

With our knowledge, we can carefully review test results and testimony to determine if your rights were violated or if a test was given incorrectly. If this is the case, we may be able to have the evidence thrown out, strengthening your defense.

What Factors Are Required For A Guilty Verdict In A DWI Arrest?

Law enforcement must prove that you were driving in a public place while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state must also show evidence that you have either a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, or traces of a Schedule 1 drug in your blood or urine, or were under the influence of an impairing substance.

The law for impaired driving includes being influenced by any impairing substance. Therefore, if your conduct is considered influenced and impaired, you can be arrested and charged with a DWI even if your BAC was under the legal limit.

If I Blew A .08% Or Higher On A Breathalyzer Test, Am I Automatically Guilty?

A DWI is like any other charge; you are innocent until proven guilty, and you have the right to a trial. Law enforcement must not only prove that you were driving while under the influence but also that the traffic stop and arrest were legal. We can challenge the legality of the stop, whether the proper protocol was followed, and other aspects of the arrest.

Exceptions to the Legal Limit

Not everyone has the same legal limit BAC of .08%. The main exceptions to this rule are commercially licensed drivers and drivers under the age of 21.

Commercial drivers can be arrested for a DWI if they have any amount of a Schedule I substance present in a chemical test, are influenced by an impairing substance, or have a BAC of .04%.

Underage drivers can be charged for driving while drinking or driving while any amount of a controlled substance or alcohol remains in their body. Any amount of these substances present in a chemical test can result in an arrest and charges.

DWI Sentencing Levels in North Carolina

When deciding how to sentence a DWI, the court will review grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors present in the case. These may include prior driving offenses, prior DWI convictions, causing injury to another person, driving on a revoked license, or having an especially high BAC of 0.15% or higher. Based on the specifics of a case, the court may determine the offense to be one of the following levels:

  • Level V

Conviction of a level V DWI results in from 24 hours to 60 days in jail and up to $200 in fines. The jail sentence can be suspended with certain conditions at the discretion of the judge.

  • Level IV

Conviction results in penalties of between 48 hours and 120 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. The jail sentence can be suspended in some circumstances.

  • Level III

Penalties include between 72 hours and six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The sentence can be suspended at the discretion of the judge.

  • Level II

Conviction of a Level II DWI results in between seven days and one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. The minimum seven-day sentence cannot be suspended.

  • Level I

Penalties include between 30 days and two years in jail and up to $4,000 in fines. The minimum 30 day sentence cannot be suspended.

  • Aggravated Level I

This is the highest sentencing level for a first-time DWI. Penalties include between 12 and 36 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. There is a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail that can’t be suspended.

  • Habitual DWI

Habitually impaired driving is charged if an individual arrested for a DWI has three or more prior DWI convictions within the last ten years. It is a Class F felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 months.


Q: How Much Does a DWI Lawyer Cost in North Carolina?

A: The cost of a DWI lawyer in North Carolina varies based on many factors. An attorney may charge an hourly fee or a flat fee for a DWI case, depending on their policies and the complexity of your case. A case expected to go to trial will have higher costs than one that can be settled before trial. The specific attorney you choose may also change the fees. An attorney with extensive experience in these cases may have a higher rate.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for a DWI in North Carolina?

A: You need a DWI lawyer in North Carolina to have the highest likelihood of a successful outcome. A lawyer for a DWI is the most effective way to avoid conviction, lower the severity of the charges you face, or request alternative penalties.

Whether or not you are factually guilty of the DWI offense, you could still face significantly harsher penalties than you deserve if you do not have an attorney protecting your rights and interests. An attorney has experience building strong DWI defenses and can provide you with support.

Q: Can You Go to Jail for a DWI in North Carolina?

A: Yes, you can go to jail for a DWI in North Carolina. A first-offense DWI with no aggravating factors can result in a jail sentence of between 24 hours and 60 days. Prior DWI convictions or other aggravating factors will likely result in more severe sentencing and longer jail time.

In some cases, a jail sentence can be suspended for a probation sentence with certain conditions. However, this suspension determination is based on the discretion of the judge. If a DWI offense is severe enough, suspension of the minimum sentence may not be allowed.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in North Carolina?

A: North Carolina law does not differentiate between DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired), and both terms can be used interchangeably. Some states have different definitions for these crimes, but North Carolina no longer does.

In the state, the crime of driving while impaired is typically referred to as DWI. However, the crime does not only punish alcohol intoxication. Impairment can result from any substance, including prescription medication or other controlled drugs.

Experienced North Carolina DWI Defense Lawyers

Anxious, nervous, or ashamed? It’s not the end of the world. Thousands of people are arrested every year in Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas for DWI. You are not alone. In fact, it may surprise you to know just how little it takes to be considered “over the limit” in North Carolina. Here at The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, we have helped scores of people just like you get through this surreal and often horrific experience.

We know how important this charge is to you and that’s why we take our time to meet face to face with you to discuss the many possible outcomes of your case. We will explain everything thoroughly and put your mind at ease. Life is complicated enough, having an experienced DWI trial lawyer on your side can help assuage any unpleasantness about this process and allow you to move on with the more important things. We have set up this website as an informative tool to allow you to navigate through the information that you need in order to understand your rights and learn more about what options are available to you.

For example, you may be asking yourself, “Do I need a DWI lawyer?” or “What kind of DWI defenses are there?” Whether you are looking for information on DMV hearings or an Under 21 DWI, this website can take you there. Please look around and take your time. Feel free to pick up the phone and call us for a free and confidential DWI consultation.

DWI Laws in North Carolina

What is driving while impaired in North Carolina?

North Carolina General Statue § 20-138.1 as abridged below lays out the relevant details:

§ 20‑138.1. Impaired driving.

(a) Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

  1. While under the influence of an impairing substance; or
  2. After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or
  3. With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90‑89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.

While a horse has been excluded from the statute’s definition of vehicle, you can still be charged for DWI while riding a bicycle or lawnmower. The State can also use “appreciable impairment” to make their case. Appreciable impairment is noticeable impairment that is described in the pattern jury instructions as impairment that causes the person to lose normal control of their physical or mental faculties or both.

A Schedule 1 substance is a group of drugs that include opiates, opiate derivatives, psychedelic substances, depressants, and stimulants.

To speak with a DWI lawyer, call 336-992-3600 or fill out the online contact form.

Talk To A North Carolina DWI Defense Attorney As Soon As Possible

At LAWSMITH, The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, we have the experience and insight needed to take on your DWI charges. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your case are, our legal team is prepared to help. Contact our firm as soon as possible if you have been arrested or charged with a DWI. We can help you through this stressful process.

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