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North Carolina DWI & Criminal Defense FAQs from Trusted Jacksonville Attorneys

If you have been arrested, your head may be swimming—especially if this is your first time dealing with the legal system. As unfortunate and overwhelming as this situation is, there is a logic to the system, and understanding how it works can help you feel more confident. These answers to frequently asked questions should provide you with some idea of how the North Carolina criminal justice system works.

We offer free initial consultations at Welch and Avery. Contact our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys today to have your questions answered directly.

  • What is the punishment for a DWI first offense in North Carolina?
    North Carolina uses a sentencing structure to determine the punishment for a DWI conviction. If this is your first DWI offense, an experienced Jacksonville DWI lawyer may be able to use mitigating factors to have you sentenced under the least severe DWI sentencing level. [Read More]
  • What are the punishments for a North Carolina Felony DWI?
    Most DWI offenses are charged as misdemeanors; however, some driving while impaired charges are felonies. Felony DWI punishments are much more severe, including being labeled as a habitual driving while impaired driver. Punishments include up to 59 months in prison with a minimum prison sentence of 12 months. You may also potentially lose your vehicle. [Read More]
  • What is the legal definition of impaired driving?
    Most states define impaired driving as operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, North Carolina DWI statutes have a slightly different definition of impaired driving. You do not need to exceed the BAC level to be charged with impaired driving in North Carolina. [Read More]
  • What is a Pre-Arrest Test for DWI in North Carolina?
    First, a pre-arrest test is not the same thing as a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Pre-arrests tests may include asking the driver to say the alphabet or count backwards. Pre-tests can hurt your DWI defense. [Read More]
  • What are the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer at the police station?
    In North Carolina, you can refuse a roadside breathalyzer test without penalty; however, this is not the case for a breathalyzer at the police station. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer at the police station, you may lose your license for up to a year. [Read More]
  • What is an Aggravating Factor in a North Carolina DWI Charge?
    Aggravating factors are circumstances surrounding your DWI arrest that can increase the level of punishment you receive for a DWI conviction. Examples of aggravating factors include a BAC of .015 or higher and speeding of 30 miles or more per hour over the posted speed limit. In addition to aggravating factors, North Carolina DWI statutes also list grossly aggravating factors that qualify the person for the most severe DWI punishment available under the state's DWI laws. Examples of grossly aggravating factors include causing an accident where someone is seriously injured or having a previous impaired driving conviction. [Read More]
  • Can I get my DWI reduced to a lesser charge?
    It is unlikely you will be able to convince a prosecutor or judge to reduce your DWI to a lesser charge in North Carolina. North Carolina takes driving while impaired offenses very seriously. Even though you may not be able to have your charges reduced, hiring an experienced Jacksonville DWI attorney is in your best interest. The attorney may not be able to reduce your DWI charge but the attorney may be able to use mitigating factors to lower the sentencing level, thereby decreasing the severity of your punishment for a DWI conviction. [Read More]
  • What is an unlawful DWI search and seizure?
    The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement. You can waive your right and allow the officer to search your vehicle — never waive your rights. In order for the officer to search your vehicle at a DWI stop, he must have probable cause. Attacking probable cause is one DWI defense we can use to fight your NC DWI ticket. [Read More]
  • Do I have a right to an attorney while taking DWI field sobriety tests?

    You can respectfully decline to answer questions or take field sobriety tests at a DWI stop; however, you do not have the right to an attorney at the DWI stop if you choose to take these tests or answer questions. You do have the right to consult with an attorney prior to taking chemical tests at the police station. [Read More]

  • How do I get a Jacksonville work license after a DWI?
    A work license or Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) license is a special type of North Carolina driver’s license issued to some individuals charged with or convicted of driving while impaired. An LDP allows the person to drive to and from work. There are conditions and requirements associated with a pre-trial LDP and a post-trial LDP. [Read More]
  • Falsely Accused: How Do I Prove That I Am Innocent Of A Crime?
    Being accused of a crime that you did not commit is terrifying. Our justice system is supposed to punish people who are guilty of a crime and it is supposed to find people who did not commit a crime innocent of all charges. Unfortunately, our justice system does not always work the way our founding fathers intended it to work. For more information about what to do if you are falsely accused of a crime, you can read our full blog on this subject and contact our office.
  • How Serious is Drug Trafficking in North Carolina?

    North Carolina views drug trafficking and all drug charges very seriously. If you are found guilty of drug trafficking in North Carolina, you face mandatory prison sentences and fines. The amount of time you spend in prison and the amount of your fine depend on the type of drug involved and the amount of the drug in question. More information about drug trafficking laws in North Carolina can be found in our blog or by calling our office to speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys.

  • Can I Get The Conditions Of My Bond Changed?

    If you are arrested for a crime in North Carolina, you may have the right to be released pending your trial. The court may impose a financial bond to ensure your compliance with any release requirements and to ensure you will appear at all court hearings. The amount and conditions of the bond are decided by the judge after the judge considers all of the factors surrounding your criminal charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you change the conditions of your bond under some circumstances. Read more about bonds here.

  • Is It Ever Legal To Possess Marijuana In North Carolina?

    This is a common question many people have, given the fact that some states have legalized medical marijuana and other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. North Carolina continues to classify marijuana as a controlled substance; therefore, possessing marijuana in North Carolina is a crime. You cannot possess, sell, or grow marijuana in North Carolina. If you are found guilty of marijuana drug charges, you face serious negative consequences. Read our full blog on possession of marijuana and contact our drug defense attorneys for more information.

  • What Happens If I Get Caught Driving With A Suspended License?

    In North Carolina, a suspended driver’s license is the same as a revoked driver’s license – these terms are interchangeable. In both cases, your driving privileges have been revoked which could seriously affect your ability to work and to provide for your family. Some of the reasons why your license may be suspended in North Carolina include driving while impaired, failure to appear in court, too many traffic violations, mandatory suspension for some traffic violations, failure to pay child support, dropping out of high school, and failing to perform court-ordered community service. Regardless of why you have a suspended driver’s license, driving with a suspended driver’s license is a crime. If you are convicted of DWLR (driving while license revoked), you face serious criminal penalties. Read our blog for an explanation of DWLR and the penalties you face for a conviction.

  • Will I Be Able To Possess A Gun If I Have a Felony Conviction?

    Owning and possession a firearm is a constitutional right; however, you can lose this right if you are convicted of a North Carolina felony charge. North Carolina criminal law prohibits convicted felons from owning or possessing a firearm. In some cases, you may be able to restore your firearm rights. Our attorneys explain this matter in more detail in our blog section.

  • Does A Person Charged With Domestic Violence Have To Stay In Jail For 48 Hours?

    North Carolina treats domestic violence as a serious matter. If convicted of domestic violence, you face serious criminal penalties. Even if the police are simply investigating charges of domestic violence, you should immediately consult a criminal defense lawyer instead of waiting until the police decide whether to make an arrest. While automatic jail time may not be a requirement of a domestic violence charge, you could spend 48 hours or more in jail if you are arrested. Read our entire explanation of this issue here.

  • North Carolina Expungement: Can I Get My Criminal Case Expunged?

    Having a criminal record can make it very difficult to get the job that you want, live where you desire, or own a firearm. In some cases, you may be able to have your criminal conviction expunged from your record. If the expungement is successful, it will be as if you were never arrested or convicted of a crime in North Carolina. Our criminal defense lawyers discuss expungements in more detail in our blog section.

  • Do I Have To Answer Questions From The Police?

    You have the right to remain silent if the police want to question you regarding a criminal investigation. You also have the right to remain silent if the police arrest you on any criminal charge. Use your right to remain silent except for contacting the criminal defense lawyers at Welch and Avery. We discuss the reasons why it is not in your best interest to talk to the police here.

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