Category Archives: DWI

Reasons You Could Get Your Driver’s License Suspended In Raleigh, NC

It’s happened—your driver’s license is suspended, and you need to get around. That means you’ll need to make arrangements to get around for a while. If you’ve been considering carpooling, taking public transit or bicycling to work for a while, you’ll be covered. But you’ll still need to deal with the suspension, and getting your license back.

Why Your License Was Suspended

North Carolina has a number of reasons why your license might be suspended, including multiple traffic violations.

Reasons You Could Get Your Driver's License Suspended In Raleigh, NCFor a single offense, you can lose your license for:

  • 30 days if you were driving over 55 mph and at least 15 mph over the speed limit
  • One year if you fail to stop and offer aid when involved in an accident
  • Three years for illegal street racing with another individual, which includes the seizure of your vehicle

Having more than one offense or conviction can also lead to a suspension:

  • One year if you have two or more convictions for driving over 55 mph and 15 mph over the speed limit.
  • A conviction of reckless driving and one of the aforementioned speeding
  • A conviction of speeding over 75 mph
  • A court sentence that prohibits your ability to operate a motor vehicle for a specific time period

You can also request a suspension hearing by calling your local DMV or writing to the DMV in Raleigh. They will notify you by mail of the time and place for your hearing. You can appeal their decision within 30 days.

Non-Driving Reasons For Suspension

So your driving record is perfect, but your license was still suspended? There could be another reason for that, including:

  • Not appearing in court for other traffic or parking tickets
  • Drug/alcohol rehab
  • Not paying court-ordered child support
  • Fraudulent actions
  • Leaving a vehicle running with an unattended child inside
  • Other court probations and/or violations

Suspension Vs. Revocation

A suspended driver’s license is only suspended for a period of time, such as 30 days. You will not have to re-apply for your driver’s license and re-take any tests. You may be required to pay fines to tickets as well.

A revocation indicates that your license was canceled completely, along with your driving privileges. Your license can be reinstated once you meet the state’s eligibility requirements.

Getting Your License Back

The suspension isn’t the same as a complete revocation, and you can drive again. Once your suspension period is over, you can have it restored by:

  • Paying a restoration fee of $65 to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • An additional $50 fee if you didn’t turn your license into the DMV before the start of the suspension period
  • An additional $130 fee if your suspension was for Driving While Impaired (DWI)

Working with an attorney who specializes in driver’s license suspension can make the process easier, especially if you experience any obstacles in the process or need to file a DMV appeal.

You Can Drive Again

Having your driver’s license suspended is a serious inconvenience, and can cost a considerable amount of money if you’re unable to get to work or get around. Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley is your best chance in Raleigh for getting your license back and your driving privileges restored. Call today: 919-832-0307 (or contact him online) to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.

Types of Traffic Violations in Raleigh, NC

Most Tarheel State residents are familiar with DWI, or Driving While Impaired, which is the charge for someone driving a motor vehicle while or after drinking alcohol. But even for drivers who have never had a drop of alcohol before, there are still a range of traffic violations that can be as serious as a DWI—and about as expensive.

But if you’re not familiar with some of the charges that you can receive on a ticket, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common charges. You should be aware of these violations and have some understanding should you find yourself speaking to a police officer.

Driving Without A License

There are two versions of this ticket:

  • Driving Without A Valid License, when you are unable to produce a license or your license has expired. This charge is also levied against individuals from foreign countries who fail to obtain a legal NC driver’s permit, and can include harsh penalties.
  • Driving With A Revoked License, a class 2 misdemeanor that can add 3 points to your driving record and increase your insurance as much as 25%. You could also face high fines and possibly jail time for this charge.

Careless & Reckless Driving

This charge usually includes speeding, but is used anytime a driver operates their vehicle in an unsafe or irresponsible fashion. This charge can lead to a suspended license.

Types of Traffic Violations in Raleigh, NC

Exceeding Posted Speed

Not a “speeding” charge, it’s a lesser charge that can escalate your insurance rates.

Speeding

This common citation can include both fines and points on your driving record as well as dramatically increase your insurance rates.

Failure To Stop For/Passing A Stopped School Bus

This is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with the possibility of 120 days in jail or community service and driving school. The charge includes a $500 fine and $190 court costs, and it must be paid before renewing your license and vehicle registrations for all your vehicles. You’ll gain five points on your driving record and four on your insurance record for this one, with the potential for an 80% increase.

Hit & Run

It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in NC, as well as many other states. After an accident, all drivers are required to stop and wait for police. You’re also required to exchange information with all other drivers, and ensure that any injured parties receive necessary medical attention.

If you must leave the scene of the accident to notify police, get immediate medical attention, or prevent further injury to yourself or other parties, you must return to the scene within a reasonable period of time or face charges.

North Carolina sees hit & run as both a misdemeanor and a felony, depending on the severity of the accident. Penalties range from fines and 120 days in jail to a Class H or Class F felony, with high fines and as much as 41 months in jail.

DWI, Driving While Inebriated (Including Provisional DWI)

We discuss this charge in-depth on our website, as well as in a number of blog posts. North Carolina has some of the harshest DWI laws in the US, with high fines and jail time for those convicted.

Ignoring It Will Not Make It Go Away

Even for the most minor violations that you might think are “no big deal,” you must pay attention and take care of a ticket. Some may not require you to appear in court, others will. But ignoring the citation altogether will it will cost more to get your license restored if you get to the point of suspension. Read your ticket carefully and understand instructions for payment before you find yourself with additional issues like:

  • Failing to appear for a speeding ticket adds a $200 fine
  • Eventual license suspension for failing to appear and pay a fine for speeding
  • A warrant for your arrest
  • Additional points

It’s also not wise to pay the fine and be done with it—that’s an admission of guilt, and can raise your insurance rates as well. A Raleigh traffic ticket attorney can inform you of all your legal options.

Points Add Up

Different charges come with different amounts of points that are added to your driving record. Rack up enough of them, and you may be assigned to a “driver improvement clinic.” If you continue to rack up points, your driver’s license can be outright suspended:

  • First suspension: 60 days
  • Second suspension: 6 months
  • Third suspension: 12 months

Points are cancelled after the license is reinstated.

Insurance rates can also escalate, and additional fines and fees may be required to reinstate your license.

One option is to request a reduction of your charge to a lower ranking citation. If the court agrees, you could avoid having points added to your driving record.

Defense For Traffic Violations

Even with minor charges, traffic violations can cost money and cause trouble later. Ignoring a traffic ticket can bring additional problems than if you’d dealt with it at the outset, so get help.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh traffic ticket defense attorney who can aggressively defend you against traffic tickets of all types—including DWI—and protect your rights in court. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your DWI case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form

How A DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Current And Future Employment In Raleigh, NC

As we’ve mentioned before, DWI is a very expensive arrest, even if you’re innocent, or failed your field sobriety tests. From the moment you are arrested even for suspicion of DWI in Raleigh (or anywhere in North Carolina), you must defend yourself, your driver’s license, and your reputation. Each of these things will cost money.

But employment is one part of the DWI that most people don’t think about. Will you be fired? How will you get to work? What about your car? All these things come into play after you’re arrested and charged with DWI in North Carolina.

The Aftermath: Your Current Job

How A DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Current And Future Employment In Raleigh, NCDepending on where you’re employed and what you do now, you may or may not be terminated. North Carolina is an “at-will” employment state, where you can be terminated with or without a cause, and there may be a policy that a DWI or other criminal arrest is cause for immediate termination.

Depending on the company’s handbook and policies, you may be required to notify your company immediately (and you may still be terminated.) If they don’t find out from you, and find out from another employee or some other source, it could make a difference.

After your arrest, your driver’s license is immediately suspended for 12 months. You may be able to have limited driving privileges after 10 days for driving to and from work (if you are still employed.) In either case, you’ll have to find another way to get back and forth to work for a while.

If driving is an essential part of your job and requires you to have a commercial driver’s license, there is a good chance you will lose your CDL—and your job.

Any kind of professional licensure—medical, legal, professional pilot, or other license—requires that you report any arrests and/or convictions to the issuing agency. As a rule, you will lose your license, as well as your job.

Absenteeism may also be a factor. Court appearances and possible jail time will force you to miss work. Excessive absenteeism may be cause for termination.

Background Checks And Disclosures

If you’ve lost your job and are looking for another one, a DWI will most certainly show up on a background check. Arrest records are also public records, available to anyone who wants to find it.  Nearly everyone is checked, and if you don’t disclose something that shows up, you’ll lose any chance you may have had of being hired.

Take a proactive stance: get a background check on yourself and see what show up. You may discover other mistakes that will keep you from finding a job as well.

Jobs To Avoid After DWI

You will be ineligible for a number of different types of jobs after a DWI. They include:

  • Government jobs, including joining the military
  • Teaching jobs, daycare jobs and other jobs working with children
  • Jobs that involve handling highly confidential information
  • Driving jobs: bus and truck drivers, delivery drivers, outside sales jobs that involve driving and visiting customers

Interviewing And Getting A Job With A DWI In Your Record

A DWI doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never be able to work again. Despite the difficulties of a DWI, it is possible to interview and find another job post-conviction. But it does mean handling things differently.

Some companies may only ask about convictions, not arrests. In that case, you may not be required to disclose the arrest; ask your DWI attorney for clarification.

It’s best to mention it only if and when you are asked. While an experienced interviewer will likely not be surprised, make your explanation short and succinct, and include the steps you’ve taken afterwards, such as rehab or other corrective actions. Describe what led to the DUI and what you’ve learned from the experience, as well as other things you’ve done to restore your life. Mention that you’ve not driven after drinking since, and that you would never do anything to harm the company’s reputation.

If your case is dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial, you can also request an expunction, or removal from your record, meaning it would be as if your arrest and/or conviction had never happened. You can start the process immediately.

Expunction isn’t available for a DWI conviction.

DWI Defense

A DWI charge is always serious, and can lead to serious employment implications now and in the future.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh DWI defense attorney who can aggressively defend you against DWI charges and protect your rights in the courtroom. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your DWI case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

Are All Raleigh, NC Traffic Tickets Public Record?

Maybe you were speeding, buzzed through a stop sign, or made an illegal left turn somewhere while in an unfamiliar area. However, it happened, you find yourself with a traffic ticket.

It might seem like a small thing, but Raleigh, NC traffic tickets can add points to your driving record. Enough points can suspend your license. But are they public record that anyone can find?

A Ticket Is A Court Case

Police officer pulling a blue car over on the side of the road to give them Raleigh, NC traffic tickets.Anytime you’re issued a traffic ticket, you’re given a court date to appear. You can hire a traffic ticket attorney and have them take care of it. This, of course, is depending on the charge and severity. For instance, running a stop sign is not as severe as a DUI or vehicular manslaughter, for which you will be required to go to court, and possibly spend time in jail. But they will all have a court date.

A “waivable” traffic ticket is one you can pay the fine for and be done with it. This means that you’ll waive your right to trial, plead guilty, and accept the points and or other consequences of that ticket. This only applies to charges like minor traffic and equipment violations, not something more serious like DUI.

Can Anybody Find My Ticket?

Yes, but it’s not as easy as you think.

Only someone who has a “vested interest” can find your Raleigh, NC traffic tickets upon request, if they have the required information needed to find it. These individuals must agree to the website’s terms of service.

Anyone requesting the information online will be required to read and certify:

I certify under penalty of law that I am entitled to personal information from the requested driving record under one or more of the permissible uses listed in the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act.*

I am aware that there are federal criminal and civil penalties for knowingly obtaining, disclosing or using this personal information for a purpose not permitted under DPPA (18 U.S.C. Sections 2721-2724).

I also understand that North Carolina G.S. 20-43.1 prohibits someone from obtaining personal information from a driver record by purposely or knowingly misrepresenting his or her identity or the use for which he or she is seeking that information. Anyone who does so may be charged with felony tampering with a public record.

While your personal information (name, address, etc.) are not publicly available under Chapter 123, Section 2721 of the U.S. Code (Driver Privacy Protection Act), and N.C. G.S. 20-43.1, some parties and/or entities can access your driving record (including personal information), some personal information may be disclosed upon request. They include:

  • You, the driver, to receive your own driving record
  • Insurance companies, for rating or underwriting, claims, and anti-fraud activities
  • Employers to verify information for commercial drivers’ licenses
  • Private toll operations, to identify drivers
  • To notify owners of towed or impounded vehicles
  • In the course of normal business (conditions apply)

The entire list of interested parties who can access your driving record can be found on North Carolina’s DOT website.

Caveat—Lawyer Advertising

The NC Department of Public Safety states on its website that if you receive an unsolicited letter from an attorney offering help with your traffic ticket, it’s the result of getting your name from the Clerk of Superior Court, and has nothing to do with the officer who issued it.

Need Help With Raleigh, NC Traffic Tickets?

If you’ve received a traffic ticket and would like to learn more about your options, contact our offices any time or call 919-832-0307. Dewey P. Brinkley is Raleigh’s leading traffic ticket attorney, and can help neutralize the effects of traffic tickets on your driving record.

How To Fight A Raleigh, NC Traffic Ticket

A traffic ticket can be one of those minor annoyances that are part of everyday life in the Tarheel State. But getting a traffic ticket can also cost more than a little fine. Depending on the charge, your insurance could go up, and you’ll likely have an increase of points on your driver’s license. (More than 12 points, and your license could be suspended.) If you drive for a living, you could lose your job as well as your license.

Sometimes, drivers have been known to talk their way out of a ticket. But that’s not always an option.

While it’s tempting to just pay it and be done with it, you may not want to do that. But how do you go about fighting a Raleigh, NC traffic ticket? It takes a little time and effort, but it can be done, successfully.

Dispute The Officer’s Subjective Judgement/Conclusion

If you were in a situation where the officer was required to make a judgment call as to whether or not you violated the law, you may be able to levy a challenge. Was the officer in an ideal location to observe your actions when giving you a Raleigh, NC traffic ticket?

Dispute The Officer’s Observations

Police office going over to a motorcyclist to give them a Raleigh, NC traffic ticketWhile a police officer’s observation and opinion is frequently the prevailing one, evidence may be used to prove your side of the story:

  • Witness statements who can substantiate your version of the events (these would be passengers, bystanders or anyone else who was a witness)
  • Drawings and/or diagrams of the area where the ticket was issued, including the locations of your vehicle as well as the officer’s. Include locations such as stop signs, other vehicles, traffic signals and other landmarks.
  • Photographs of the area where you were stopped and ticketed, including road conditions, obstructions, and anything else that can prove your version of events.
  • Additional evidence that would dispute the officer’s ability to correctly observe your alleged violation.

The “Mistake Of Fact” Defense

Old, faded or hidden stop signs, or other markings that aren’t readily visible can mean that even the most attentive drivers miss something. Because the sign or instructions weren’t clear to the driver, (especially something like a stop sign that’s hidden behind a tree, branch or other obstruction) you weren’t given notice of the conduct that was expected. Under these circumstances, a judge may dismiss your ticket as a “mistake of fact.”

If you find yourself in this situation, taking pictures of the hidden sign or other invisible signage is essential to proving your case.

“Legal Necessity” For Your Actions

Should you find yourself in a situation where you needed to pull over, speed up or slow down to avoid an accident, injury or other danger, you may be able to use this defense. Rather than disputing the officer’s testimony, you’ll introduce another legal point which may be successful.

For instance, if your vehicle began making a loud noise, or suddenly stops operating, you stop in the middle of the road to avoid harming other drivers and causing an accident. Or you swerve and/or speed up to avoid another vehicle that’s out of control or an unexpected object. If you’ve ever swerved to avoid a bag or a box in the road, you understand this.

Of course, you’ll also need evidence, such as pictures, repair bills, witness statements, or other documentation in order to prove your defense.

Winning By Default

Police officers sometimes don’t show up for court. If this happens, and your ticket is dismissed, pat yourself on the back. Make sure you don’t owe any fines or court costs before you leave the courthouse, or you’ll be in for another surprise later.

You Can Fight A Raleigh, NC Traffic Ticket

Don’t fight a ticket alone, especially if you already have points on your license. Keep your license and your driving record clear with the right help. Dewey P. Brinkley is ready to help you fight back against a traffic ticket and keep your driving record clear. Call him today at 919-832-0307 or contact him online to schedule your free consultation.

 

Reinstating A Suspended North Carolina Driver’s License

It happened—you now have a suspended NC driver’s license. You can’t drive. How will you get to work or school? Are you stuck with public transportation and bumming rides from friends and relatives? Not necessarily.

In North Carolina, you can drive again after a suspended license, but not while the license is suspended. That, of course, is another charge, and you could see your suspension period increased face large fines and even the loss of your car.

Reasons You May Receive A Suspended NC Driver’s License

Gavel and scales of justice on an open legal book in a home library to show researching a suspended NC driver's license and what to do about it.One of the determining factors may be why your license was suspended. Those reasons dictate the time period for a suspension, including

A combination of more than one traffic offense can increase your suspension period.

License Restoration After Suspension

A license suspension is for a period of time, and your driving privileges are reinstated after that time period. You will not have to retake the driving test or apply for a new license, but you can request a hearing to appeal the suspension. An experienced attorney can help you with your hearing and appeal.

When your suspension period is over, you’ll get your license back by:

  • Paying a $65 restoration fee to the North Carolina DMV
  • Pay a $50 service fee to the DMV if you didn’t surrender your license to the DMV at the time of suspension
  • Pay an additional $130 fee if you’ve been convicted of DUI (driving under the influence) and it was the reason your license was suspended in the first place

Revocation, on the other hand, is a termination of your driving privileges, and requires a longer process to be reinstated, including re-taking the driving test and applying for a new license.

You can also request an administrative hearing by calling the DMV in Raleigh.

License Points

Anytime you commit a traffic violation, you’ll accumulate “points” on your driving record. When you reach 12 points in a three-year period, your license will be suspended for 60 days. Subsequent accumulations will yield longer suspensions.

If you have more than seven points on your record, you can drop three points off your record by taking a $50 Driver Improvement Clinic. You can attend one of these clinics every five years, and remove three points each time.

You Can Drive Again

Reinstating your suspended NC driver’s license after a suspension takes time and a little patience. Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley is your best chance in Raleigh for getting your license back and your driving privileges restored. He can work with you to navigate the appeals process, and defend you in any court hearing. Call today: 919-832-0307 (or contact him online) to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.

 

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate In Raleigh, NC?

We recently discussed the admissibility of the Field Sobriety Tests (FST) commonly used at DUI checkpoints and traffic stops in North Carolina. These physical tests are administered in conjunction with a breath alcohol device that is intended to measure the amount of alcohol in your system.

In a word, no. Commonly used by police to determine intoxication, FSTs aren’t foolproof. Although FSTs are the norm, the decision of intoxication lies solely with the officer at the scene. The officer will use his or her own judgment, based on visuals, FSTs, and a breathalyzer to determine whether to complete an arrest based on an assessment of DUI.

What Are FSTs?

There are three standard Field Sobriety Tests that are used in Raleigh and nationwide after an officer has administered a breath or blood alcohol test:

  • A sad man in his red car after failing his field sobriety test in Raleigh, NC.The “Walk-And-Turn” Test, in which you’re asked to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, for a specific number of steps. Your balance as well as your ability to remember the number is observed.
  • The “One Leg Stand” Test, in which you stand on one leg and count to 30, presumably for 30 seconds. The officer will observe to see if you can stand, or you use your arms, hop, sway, or put down your foot while trying to balance.
    • In both of these tests, factors such as age, fatigue, physical condition, injuries, and even uncomfortable shoes can make balancing difficult. Even sober, you may be ruled “intoxicated.”
  • The “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test” (HGN), where the officer checks your eye movement while moving his finger or other object side to side.

Other non-standard tests that may be requested by an officer are reciting the alphabet backwards, putting your finger on the tip of your nose, and counting forward, then backwards. These are not scientific nor standard tests. They are not accurate for determining intoxication, and challenged in court if used to arrest you for DUI.

Challenging the FST Results

The protocols for these standard FSTs were developed in a laboratory under controlled conditions. If you’re being asked to perform them, it’s probably on the side of the road.

The FSTs were developed by the Southern California Research Institute (SCRI), which determined that these three tests were the most accurate for determining intoxication. Initially, their success rate was around 40%. Over time, SCRI standardized the testing so that it gave an 82% success rate. However, this number only reflects the ability to detect intoxication, not the ability to drive a car.

If a police officer stops you, even sober, you are already stressed. The likelihood of being able to perfectly stand on one foot for 30 seconds without wavering or holding up your arms for balance, then counting to 30 (or until told to stop) is very low. Yet this is one of the gold-standard “tests” for determining sobriety in a driver.

The established guidelines for administering the standard FSTs are not always precisely followed. Even correctly administered, the FSTs may inaccurately indicate intoxication. Police officers aren’t penalized for arresting an innocent individual, so they will make the arrest anyway.

As mentioned previously, other factors can inhibit someone’s ability to complete the FSTs. Even with a blood alcohol content (BAC) below the legal limit of 0.08, an officer may make an arrest for DUI based on how you perform when asked.

Results from FSTs are known to be subjective, and offices who incorrectly administer or evaluate will create an inaccurate decision. The results could then be challenged in court.

Defense For DUI And Inaccurate Field Sobriety Testing

Even if you’re 100% sober, FSTs don’t tell the whole story. An experienced DUI attorney can challenge the officer’s findings and request a dismissal of charges dismissed based on the inaccuracy of the FSTs.

Sober or not, a DUI charge is serious, and must be handled correctly to avoid more serious consequences. Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh DUI defense attorney who can aggressively defend you against false DUI charges and protect your rights in court. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your DUI case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

What Are Some Of The Consequences Of A DWI Conviction In Raleigh, NC?

Recently we told you about the costs of getting a DWI conviction in Raleigh. As we explained, it’s quite expensive. Even if your case is dismissed, you can spend upwards of $3,500 in court and administrative costs, and attorney fees. You can also be sued in civil court for personal injury damages if you hit someone.

But beyond the financial consequences, there are other consequences that you may suffer as a result of a North Carolina DWI arrest and conviction.  It does not “drop off” your driving and criminal record like a parking ticket, and it can affect you the rest of your life.

Students And DWI

DWI defense attorney Raleigh NC

Zero tolerance” is North Carolina’s law for underage drinking, and anyone under 21 can be convicted with any amount of alcohol in their system, not just the state limit of 0.08.

Additionally, high school students may face additional disciplinary actions at school, such as suspension or even expulsion. At the collegiate level, students may be prevented from receiving scholarships or other financial aid, or lose them if they’re already in college.

Employment

Some employers may terminate your employment immediately after an arrest; it may be part of their company policy (check your company’s employee handbook.) Depending on your job and where you work, you may have some questions to answer, but may not be fired. However, certain types of jobs may end if you’re arrested for DUI. For instance:

  • If you’re an air traffic controller or a pilot, your “medical fitness” will be reviewed automatically. If you are found “unfit” as a result of substance abuse, you won’t be allowed to work.
  • Professional licenses for doctors and nurses can be suspended or revoked by their respective state boards
  • NC’s State Board of Barber Examiners also has the ability to revoke your license after a felony conviction
  • Anyone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), such as truck drivers, can also lose their license—and their livelihood—after a commercial DWI conviction. The legal limit for CDL holders is 0.04, half of the state’s legal limit.
  • A DWI conviction can impact government employees with security clearances

A DWI can also affect your professional reputation and relationships with colleagues, coworkers and employees.

Additionally, future employment opportunities may be limited due to a conviction for DUI. If you’re asked if you’ve ever been arrested, you will have to disclose it. If you don’t, an arrest will appear when someone runs a criminal background check. While some jobs may be accepting, others, such as those that require you to drive, may decide against hiring you. You may be unable to acquire a professional license due to a DWI charge in North Carolina.

Housing

A DWI will show up if any landlord, lender or loan officer performs a criminal background check. You’ll have increased difficulty renting or buying a home, getting home financing, or even finding a place to live temporarily.

Relationships

A DWI arrest can lead to strained relationships with family, friends and colleagues, due to the stigma. Marital relationships that are already strained can worsen after a North Carolina DWI arrest and conviction, sometimes leading to divorce.

Divorce/Child Custody

If you’re already in the middle of a divorce, a DWI arrest will make things worse, especially with children.

Your spouse can use the arrest to show the judge that you are not responsible enough to properly care for your own children. As we mentioned, you’ll also have difficulty finding a place to live when you move out of the marital home, making your case more difficult.

A DWI does not mean an automatic loss of child custody, and the judge won’t necessarily use a Raleigh DWI arrest as the sole reason for denying you custody. But there are other factors that may cost you custody of your child or children, including:

  • If it was a single DWI or one of many
  • Your BAC (blood alcohol content) at the time of arrest, and if it was over 0.08, the legal limit
  • If you completed drug/alcohol treatment and/or rehabilitation
  • If you were arrested with an illegal drug or a prescription that inhibited your ability to drive
  • If you were in an accident, and if there were any injuries
  • If any children were in the car with you at the time of the arrest
  • Your criminal record—are there any additional pending charges?

Losing your license, or having severe restrictions, can also affect your visitation with them, especially if you can’t pick them up and drop them off.

A DWI Has Long-Reaching Consequences

In addition to a very expensive court case, the rest of the consequences can be just as devastating. A great DWI defense attorney can be expensive, but can save you more than just money.

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced Raleigh DWI defense attorney and a former Wake County prosecutor. He can prepare a strong defense and make sure you are fairly represented in court. Contact our Raleigh law office at (919) 832-0307 (or user our online contact form) for a free consultation.

Will Getting My Driver’s License Suspended Affect My Auto Insurance?

A suspended license is bad enough. There’s a process you have to complete in order to have your North Carolina driver’s license reinstated, and it costs money. On top of that, you still need insurance. But once your insurance company discovers your license is suspended, there’s a strong chance you’ll be paying more for your auto insurance.

Reasons For Suspension

North Carolina drivers license attorneyLicense suspensions happen for a number of different reasons. North Carolina uses the “point” system, and even a single point can raise your insurance rates without a suspension. After you’ve accumulated seven points, the state requires you to take a Driver Improvement Clinic. If you accumulate 12 points in a three year period, your license could be suspended anywhere from 60 days up to a year.

Suspension for risky driving behavior may cause your insurance company to cancel your policy. The most common reasons are moving violations, such as:

  • Speeding
  • DWI
  • Hit-and-run
  • Felony with a motor vehicle
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Evading a police officer
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving without insurance
  • Reckless endangerment in a construction zone

Your driver’s license can also be suspended for non-vehicle related reasons, such as:

  • Court probation and violations
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Acts of fraud
  • Leaving a child unattended in a running vehicle
  • Undergoing rehab for an alcohol and/or chemical dependency
  • Failure to appear in court for parking or other tickets

Some insurers may not raise rates for non-vehicular suspensions, but that varies by company.

If your North Carolina driver’s license is suspended long-term, you may be considering cancelling your insurance until your license is renewed. This may not be a good idea, since getting re-insured later may cost more. A non-owner’s policy may be available through your insurer to keep you insured until you can drive again. You may also consider shopping around for new insurers before you cancel completely.

License Reinstatement

Whether your suspension is temporary or is a permanent revocation, it is a permanent part of your driving record.

North Carolina’s process for reinstating a driver’s license begins when you receive a letter informing you that your license is suspended. Depending on the reason why your license was suspended, you may request an administrative hearing by contacting the central DMV office in Raleigh. You can contact the office by phone: (919) 715-7000, or by mail:

Driver License Hearings
3118 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697

When your suspension period is completed, or you’ve been restored through a hearing, you’ll have to visit a NC DMV office, re-apply for your license, and pay a restoration fee of $65 (or $130 if it was for DUI), as well as a $50 service fee.

If your suspension was for a non-vehicular reason, such as nonpayment of child support, you will need to comply with the provisions of the agency or court that issued the suspension.

Once your North Carolina driver’s license is restored, all points are then cancelled.

Return To The Driver’s Seat

A suspended or revoked license doesn’t mean your driving days are over. You can get your license back, even if it does take time. Need help? North Carolina driver’s license suspension attorney Dewey P. Brinkley is your best chance in Raleigh for getting your license back and your driving privileges restored. He can help you through the appeals process and defend you in court. Call today: 919-832-0307 (or contact him online) to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.

Are Raleigh Field Sobriety Tests Admissible In Court?

Finding yourself pulled over by a police officer in Raleigh is bad enough. Now you’re being asked to take tests to prove that you’re sober. You know that these field sobriety tests are actually intended to prove that you’re inebriated. Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, but you know that whatever happens, the tests will be brought to court. So, are they actually admissible?

Taking Or Not Taking Field Sobriety Tests

Raleigh field sobriety testsIn our blog from December, we discussed the three parts to Field Sobriety Tests (FST). They are:

  • The “Walk-And-Turn” Test
  • The “One Leg Stand” Test
  • The “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test” (HGN)

Police perform these tests at a roadside stop or at DUI checkpoints when an officer has reason to believe you are driving intoxicated.

These Raleigh field sobriety tests were developed and perfected in a laboratory, but side-of-the-road testing may not always be as effective, or accurate.

The officer makes the arrest decision based on the way you perform on these tests as to whether you are “impaired.” But the same “clues” that tell a police officer that you are intoxicated can also be attributed to other factors. Medications, weather, the time of day or night, your physical condition, and other factors can contribute to “failing” standard FSTs.

For instance, if you were playing basketball earlier in the day and twisted your knee, you’ll likely have trouble with the first two tests, especially if your knee still hurts. Even if you’ve consumed no alcohol, the officer may declare you “intoxicated,” because you couldn’t walk exactly right or stand on one knee.

Fighting Back Against an FST

Raleigh, NC Field sobriety testing is admissible in court, if everything was conducted correctly and the officer correctly followed procedure. In many cases, however, they weren’t, and can be rendered inadmissible. A DUI defense attorney can challenge the results and the way they were taken, and have the results dismissed from the case.

If these roadside assessments were accurate more than 90% of the time, you probably wouldn’t be able to defend yourself in court, let alone have the charges dismissed. But Field Sobriety Tests aren’t always accurate, particularly when given at a roadside stop. Even sober drivers may not be able to pass an FST for reasons other than alcohol consumption and/or intoxication.

Research from the Southern California Research Institute shows that each of these tests are accurate less than 80% of the time. Police officers must also follow a procedure to properly administer an FST. If he or she fails to follow procedure, some or all of the collected evidence can be dismissed.

You can refuse to take FST, particularly if you have other conditions that would cause you to “fail” the test, such as an injury. Inform the officer that you are declining to take these tests because of their inaccuracy. He or she cannot take your license based on FST refusal.

However, your refusal can be a reason to arrest you anyway and require you to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test for BAC (blood alcohol content). A refusal can also be used against you in court later (North Carolina General Statute § 20-139.1(f)), and the officer can claim that your refusal was due to a “guilty conscience,” because you knew that you were “intoxicated.”

Whichever choice you make, it’s important to be polite, and cooperate with the police officer’s requests.

Occasionally, officers may request you to attempt non-standard FSTs, including:

  • Reciting the alphabet, or reciting it backwards
  • Counting to a certain number, then counting backwards
  • Putting your finger to your nose

If you’re arrested based on failing these nonstandard roadside tests, a DUI defense attorney can have them dismissed.

As we mentioned in our last blog, refusing a FST is not the same as refusing a EC/IR-II Breathalyzer test, which will result in a 12 month suspension of your license. You may still be arrested for refusing FST, but you won’t lose your license as a result.

Call An Experienced DUI Attorney for Field Sobriety Testing

These roadside tests aren’t always accurate. You need an experienced DUI attorney who can work to have them dismissed, especially if they weren’t properly administered or yielded a false positive.

A Raleigh, NC DUI charge needs to be handled properly to avoid severe consequences—especially if you weren’t driving drunk. Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh DUI defense attorney who can aggressively defend you and protect your rights in court, ensuring a fair trial.

Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your DUI case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.