If you have been arrested for a DWI in Beaufort, North Carolina, you are probably concerned about your future and your freedom. North Carolina prosecutors take DWI charges seriously, and the penalties can be harsh, including jail time, fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. Those convicted of a DWI in North Carolina face some of the toughest sentencing laws for DWIs in the country.
Attorney Joel Hancock has extensive experience successfully representing clients in DWI cases. With an in-depth understanding of North Carolina DWI laws and extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors for the best outcome, he is prepared to advocate for your rights. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Beaufort, North Carolina, contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.
What Constitutes a DWI in Beaufort, North Carolina?
Driving While Impaired (DWI) occurs when someone is operating a motor vehicle on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area while subject to an impairing substance. A DWI charge is sometimes called a DUI or driving while under the influence. Many people associate DWI charges with driving while intoxicated by alcohol. DWI charges are not limited to impairment by alcohol, however. A driver can be charged with a DWI for being impaired by any controlled substance, such as marijuana or cocaine.
Drivers can also be charged with a DWI for using certain types of prescription drugs that can make them drowsy or unable to drive safely, such as sleep medication and some types of antidepressants. Whether alcohol is involved or not, the severity of the penalties does not change.
North Carolina’s Zero-Tolerance DWI Law
In some cases, North Carolina has a zero-tolerance DWI law. For example, if a commercial driver is arrested for a DWI in Beaufort, North Carolina, they will face even harsher penalties than a regular motorist. A first-time DWI offense results in a 10-day disqualification for operating a commercial motor vehicle. Second or subsequent offenses will result in the driver’s commercial driver’s license being revoked. Additionally, it’s unlawful for school bus drivers, school activity bus drivers, and childcare vehicle operators to drink and drive, no matter what the amount.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
If you are convicted of a DWI offense, you will attend a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, your defense attorney and the prosecutor can submit evidence of aggravating or mitigating factors that may influence the sentence the judge imposes. Based on the aggravating and mitigating factors, the court will impose a punishment ranging from Level 1 to Level 5. Grossly aggravating and aggravating factors will result in a more severe penalty. An example of aggravating factors would be driving with a revoked license, driving in an especially reckless or dangerous way, or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 percent or higher.
An example of a mitigating factor would be having a safe driving record with no convictions for any motor vehicle offense to which at least four points are assigned within five years of the date of the offense. Voluntarily submitting to a mental health facility for an assessment can also be a mitigating factor.
Penalties and Sentencing for DWI Charges
DWI charges can be charged as misdemeanors, although multiple convictions can lead to a felony habitual DWI. The specific penalties a defendant will face when convicted depend on the circumstances of the case, including aggravating and mitigating factors.
The penalties range from Level A1, the most severe, to Level 5, the least severe. Level A1 carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a minimum of one year of active incarceration, with a maximum of three years. Judges cannot suspend the minimum sentence in a Level A1 DWI. The least severe DWI penalties are for a Level 5 DWI, which carries a fine of up to $200, a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, and a maximum of 60 days.
In addition to potential jail time and fines, those convicted of a DWI in Beaufort can also be subjected to a substance abuse assessment program. They may be required to attend a treatment program recommended by the agency. Officers may seize the defendant’s vehicle after arrest if the defendant has prior DWI convictions. Drivers convicted of DWI may also have their licenses suspended or revoked.
Do I Have the Right to Refuse a Breath Test?
Technically, drivers have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are serious consequences. North Carolina is one of many states where drivers give implied consent to DWI testing. As a result, refusing DWI testing results in a one-year mandatory driver’s license suspension.
Even if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the police officer can obtain a warrant for a blood draw in some circumstances. Additionally, if your case goes to trial, refusing a breathalyzer test can be considered evidence of guilt in some cases. If you have questions about whether to refuse a breathalyzer test, it’s wise to ask to speak to your attorney.
How Can a DWI Attorney in Beaufort Help Me?
A DWI conviction can result in jail time, probation, and losing your driver’s license, significantly hurting your personal and professional future. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Beaufort, North Carolina, it’s crucial that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. When you meet with attorney Joel Hancock, he will answer any questions you have and ensure that you are able to make informed decisions about your case.
He has the resources and skills necessary to gather evidence to challenge the prosecutor’s case against you. Using his experience to negotiate with prosecutors, he may be able to negotiate a dismissal of the charges against you or a beneficial plea deal. If your case goes to court, he has the litigation experience necessary to represent you effectively.
Reach Out to a Beaufort DWI Attorney
Attorney Joel Hancock has represented many clients in North Carolina and successfully advocated for the best outcomes possible. – He and his staff are prepared to answer any questions you have and formulate a strategic legal defense based on the circumstances in your unique case. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can advocate for you and your rights.