Tag Archives: dui cases in raleigh

Are The Penalties For Commercial DWI Different Than Regular DWI In Raleigh, NC?

Anyone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) has an increased level of responsibility and duty of care, even when they’re not working. Because a CDL is required for many jobs that require driving, losing that license can directly impact your employment. This is especially true for individuals who drive large trucks long distances over the road.

As harsh as a DWI is, the laws are even stricter for someone with a CDL license.

At The Traffic Stop

Are The Penalties For Commercial DWI Different Than Regular DWI In Raleigh, NC?North Carolina Law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAD) of 0.04 percent or more.

North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.2A makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor operate any commercial vehicle with any amount of alcohol. If you have any detectable level of alcohol in your system, even under .04%, you will be placed “out of service” for a period of 24 hours. A conviction will bring a 10-day disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle and a fine of $100. Within seven years, if you are convicted a second time, you’ll face a one-year prohibition on driving a commercial vehicle.

A CDL driver will also have an increase in the number of “points” on their driving record as a result. Fines can also be increased to as much as double for a CDL license holder.

Hazardous Materials

Penalties are increased if you are in the process of transporting hazardous materials and are stopped for DWI.

If you’re convicted of DWI while transporting these materials, you can be disqualified from driving any commercial vehicle for as long as three years. A second conviction will result in a permanent revocation.

Subsequent DWI Convictions

A first-time conviction for a CDL DWI can disqualify you from driving a commercial vehicle for up to one year.

A second DWI brings a lifetime suspension but can be reduced to ten years by meeting certain conditions set out by the DMV.

A third DWI is a lifetime suspension without the opportunity for reinstatement.

DWI In A Passenger Vehicle

Even if you were driving your own personal vehicle or a rental car, a DWI can still cause problems for your CDL.

However, the threshold is the same for anyone driving a passenger vehicle.  If you are stopped with a BAC of .08 or greater, or if the officer believes you are impaired even if you are below .08, you can still be arrested for DWI. A conviction for DWI under these circumstances could lead to a year-long suspension of your CDL.

If your personal driver’s license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, you won’t be able to request a “hardship” CDL license.

Stop a DWI From Ending Your CDL And Your Career

Losing your commercial driver’s license can have a direct impact on your employment, in some cases, immediately, even if the case never results in a conviction. If you’re arrested, it’s up to you to fight for your license and your livelihood. The right DWI defense lawyer can make all the difference.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who works to defend DWI cases for CDL drivers who have been arrested. He can prepare a strong defense and make sure you are fairly represented in court. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 (or use our online contact form) for a free consultation. You can also email him at dewey@deweybrinkleylaw.com.

 

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.