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Charlotte DWI Attorneys

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Defense

Although a misdemeanor, a charge of DWI is a serious offense with many potential effects. In addition to fines, court costs, and potential jail time, one of the biggest issues is the ability to continue to drive. Loss of driving privileges has many negative consequences for everyday life, including impeding the ability to work and care for children and other relatives. Future issues arise with insurance premiums, possible immigration consequences, and more serious penalties for any subsequent alcohol offenses.

To get in touch with our firm, send us a message or call (704) 870-0340.

How DWI Charges Are Established

For the State to prove the charge, each of the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Driving
  • On a public street or highway
  • While under the influence of an impairing substance OR with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of .08 or above OR with any amount of a schedule I controlled substance at any relevant period after driving

Depending upon the circumstances one or all of these may be susceptible to challenge in court.

DWI Defense

It is imperative to seek legal counsel to defend against DWI offenses, as there are often underlying issues surrounding the arrest and charge that provide a defense attorney the opportunity to contest the charge.

An effective DWI defense will consider all of the following:

  • If the arrest was based on a traffic stop, was there reasonable suspicion for the police officer to make the stop? This could be based on erratic driving, weaving, driving too fast or too slow, etc.
  • If the arrest originated from a checkpoint, were all legalities complied with in setting up the checkpoint?
  • Were there obvious signs of impairment such as slurring words, odor of alcohol, red glassy eyes, difficulty following instructions, etc.?
  • Did the officer perform field sobriety tests? If so, were all technicalities complied with in administering the tests and interpreting the results?
  • Was a portable breath test used? If so, was it properly calibrated and maintained per industry standards?
  • Did the officer actually observe the defendant driving?

DWI Sentencing

DWI Sentencing falls into 6 different levels, 5 through A1 with A1 being the most severe. The level at which a defendant is sentenced depends upon three categories of sentencing factors: Grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors.

Grossly Aggravating Factors

The following are considered grossly aggravating factors:

  • Prior DWI conviction within the past 7 years
  • Serious injury to another
  • The impaired driving occurred with a person under 18 in the car
  • Previous “Driving While License Revoked” for an impaired driving offense

Aggravating Factors

The following are considered aggravating factors:

  • Impairment of .15 or higher
  • Reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving which resulted in an accident
  • Conviction for driving in excess of 30 mph over the speed limit or speeding to elude arrest
  • Conviction for passing a stopped school bus
  • Two or more prior convictions for 3-point driving offenses within the past 5 years
  • DWI/DUI conviction more than 7 years ago

Mitigating Factors

The following are considered mitigating factors:

  • Impairment of .09 or less
  • Prior safe driving record
  • Voluntary participation in alcohol treatment
  • Impairment was caused by prescription medication taken as recommended

Once the relevant factors are determined, the defendant is sentenced at the appropriate level as follows:

Level A1 — Three Grossly Aggravating Factors

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $10,000
  • 1 to 3 years of active jail time (must serve at least 4 months and remainder may be suspended)
  • Substance abuse treatment

Level 1 — Two Grossly Aggravating Factors (or 1 of Several Specified Grossly Aggravating Factors)

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $4000
  • Up to 2 years active jail time (all but 10 days may be suspended)
  • Probation
  • Substance abuse treatment

Level 2 — One Grossly Aggravating Factor

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $2000
  • Up to 1 year active jail time (all but 7 days may be suspended)
  • Probation
  • 240 hours of community service (in some cases)
  • Substance abuse treatment

Level 3 — Aggravating Factors Outweigh Mitigating Factors

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $1000
  • Up to 6 months active jail time (may be suspended)
  • Probation
  • Either 72 hours of community service or 72 hours active jail time
  • Substance abuse treatment

Level 4 — Aggravating Factors Are Equal to Mitigating Factors or No Factors Exist

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $500
  • Up to 120 days active jail time (may be suspended)
  • Probation
  • Either 48 hours of community service or 48 hours active jail time
  • Substance abuse treatment

Level 5 — Mitigating Factors Outweigh Aggravating Factors

Sentence shall be:

  • Fine of up to $200
  • Up to 60 days active jail time
  • Probation
  • Either 24 hours of community service or 24 hours active jail time
  • Substance abuse treatment

Note that these sentences are in addition to court costs, fines, jail fees, blood test fee, community service fee, fees involved with ignition interlock device, increased cost of insurance, and driver’s license revocation.

Call Us for Effective Representation

A DWI charge has serious consequences, and has the potential to be escalated due to various factors. Recovering from an accusation of driving while intoxicated requires the defense of a dedicated, knowledgeable legal team.

At our firm, Attorney Kelli Y. Allen and our staff are committed to helping people in North Carolina recover after they have made a mistake. We understand the state’s criminal justice system and are prepared to apply our insight to your case. The Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen, PLLC can help if you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Contact us online or call (704) 870-0340 to schedule a time to discuss your case with our Charlotte DWI lawyers.


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