Arrested For DWI? What Should You Do?

December 12, 2017 – Published by Robinson Law Firm

The Holiday Season is accompanied with increased patrols and checkpoints focused on DWI enforcement.  The decisions you make after your DWI arrest are critical to your defense.  Should I take the chemical test?  Do I have a right to have a witness observe the chemical test procedures?  If the officer asks questions should I answer them?  Will my driver’s license be suspended immediately, or only after a conviction?  How do I get out of jail?  Do I need an attorney?

You Should Take The Chemical Test After Your Arrest.

North Carolina is an “implied-consent” law state.  Under this law you impliedly consent to a chemical analysis if you operate a vehicle in North Carolina and are charged by an officer who has probable cause to believe you are impaired.  The chemical test can be of your breath, blood, and/or urine.  You should submit to the chemical test.  Your license will be automatically suspended for one year if you refuse this chemical test.  Even if you refuse this chemical test the officer can thereafter apply for a search warrant to obtain a sample of your blood without your consent.

You Should Request A Witness View The Chemical Test Procedures.

The officer must advise you orally and give you a notice in writing of your chemical test rights before the chemical test.  These rights include a right to refuse and the consequences of the refusal (1 year suspension); notification that your license will be immediately revoked for 30 days if your test result was 0.08 or more, 0.04 or more if you were operating a commercial vehicle, or 0.01 or more if you are under the age of 21; and your right to contact an attorney for advice and to select a witness to view the test procedures.  The chemical test can be delayed only 30 minutes to seek the advice of an attorney or for your witness to arrive.  You should exercise the right to have a witness present if one is available.  The witness can observe the test procedures and your physical and mental functions.

You Should Not Answer Any Questions By The Officer After your Arrest.

You should always be polite and courteous to the officer.  However, you should not answer any of his questions once you are arrested.  The officer will often ask questions that focus on whether you consumed/ingested alcohol/drugs; when you did; where; and how much.  He may also ask questions that test whether you are oriented to time, place and circumstances.  North Carolina recognizes your Miranda rights; the right to remain silent once you are arrested and not answer any questions that might incriminate you.  You must be advised of these rights once you are arrested and before you are asked any questions.  The notification of your right to remain silent as well as your silence thereafter is not admissible before the court or jury.

Your Drivers License Will Be Suspended Immediately For 30 Days.

Your license will be revoked immediately for 30 days if your chemical test result was 0.08 or more, 0.04 or more if you were operating a commercial vehicle, 0.01 or more if you are under the age of 21, or if you refused any chemical test.  The magistrate will enter the revocation order.  You have a right to contest this order by filing a written request within 10 days.  Even though your license is suspended for 30 days you have a right to apply for a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege to drive on a limited basis after the passage of 10 days.  The application fee for this privilege is $100 and you must provide the court with documentation of an alcohol assessment and proof of liability insurance at the time of application. 

You Can Be Released From Jail To A Sober Responsible Adult.

Conditions for your release from jail typically include a bail/bond set at $1,000 secured for a driver charged with DWI, absent additional charges or unusual circumstances.  This condition of release changes to unsecured if a sober responsible adult appears and is willing to assume responsibility, or once you are returned before the magistrate and are determined to no longer be impaired.  You are allowed to make contact with a person of your choice that can fulfill this role.

You Should Contact An Attorney Immediately After Your Release From Jail.

The weather, conditions of the roadway and scene of the traffic stop, and the location and condition of the vehicle you were driving are material factors in your defense.  Often in-car video and body cams, as well as video recordings from surrounding buildings and the jail facility, document the events.  This evidence is critical to your defense and immediate steps should be taken to ensure it is preserved. Maximum penalties for a DWI conviction now include up to 36 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.  A conviction will also result in the assignment of 12 insurance points, a 400% increase in your premiums, as well as possible termination from your job and lost job opportunities.  It is critical to immediately retain an experienced DWI attorney to avoid these consequences and provide your best defense.  We have more than 30 years of experience in DWI defense and have been teaching other attorneys how to defend their clients since 1995.  If you are arrested or charged with DWI, contact us today for a free consultation so we can tell you how we can help you win. contact Robinson Law Firm, P.A.


For more information on DWIs: DWI Laws in North Carolina 

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