When I meet with clients about a DWI, they typically come to the meeting with pre-conceived ideas about how a case might go. This is because they’ve either seen a television show about a DWI or have had friends who have had DUIs or drunk driving charges in other states or jurisdictions. Let’s talk about some of the common myths about a Driving While Impaired charge. The “Top Three Myths about DWIs”.

My lawyer will be able to get a reduction in the DWI charge to a lesser crime!

This is the most common myth. It comes from a belief that DWIs are routinely reduced to other crimes as a result of a plea bargain with the District Attorney or other prosecutor. This myth comes from people who have had friends or family who either in the past, or in other jurisdictions, have had their case handled by a reduction to a lesser included offense.

Such reductions do not apply in North Carolina. As a result of N.C.G.S. 20-179.4, which explicitly makes DWI pleas difficult, the older practice of quietly reducing a DWI to a lesser charge (such as a careless and reckless) no longer happens except in very rare cases, especially in Wake County where the District Attorney has a long-standing policy against pleading down DWIs.

The truth of the matter is that your case is either going to be won or lost after a trial, unless the State has trouble bringing a witness – such as the officer, an outside witness, or a chemical analyst – to court to prove your guilt.

I did not blow a .08 or above. Police can’t prove a DWI!

There are three ways to prove a DWI in North Carolina. First, any amount of an opiate is sufficient to prove a DWI. Second, a .08 or above on a chemical – blood, urine, or breathalyzer – test – is sufficient to provide a DWI.

But what if you didn’t blow a .08 or above? What then? A police officer may still be able to convince a judge that you were drunk driving, by showing that your behavior – while driving, while performing various Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, including the Walk & Turn, the One Leg Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, sufficiently proved you were impaired while driving.

I won’t be able to drive with a DWI.

A DWI will certainly impact your ability to drive, but many people will be eligible for Limited Driving Privileges (LDP) which enable them to drive to and from work or school, and drive for household-related purposes. In order to get these privileges, they will need to show proof of having taken a substance abuse assessment and begun treatment, proof of valid insurance, and a certified Driving Record that shows no DWIs within the prior 7 years.

Unfortunately, a DWI conviction will cause an increase in insurance rates by up to 400 percent. And in cases where the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds .15, the person will need to have a Monitech Interlock device installed in their car.

However, a single DWI conviction in most cases will not prevent someone from driving on a limited (provisional) license during the year-long license suspension.

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Jessie A. Jeffers, PA
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