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Do I Have To Consent to a Field Sobriety Test In North Carolina?

dwi cases in north carolina

Being asked to consent to a field sobriety test in North Carolina can be very stressful. You may not know what to do or what your rights are. Field sobriety tests are often conducted at traffic stops, where police officers suspect drivers of being intoxicated. These tests include things such as walking heel to toe, counting backward from 100 by 7s, reciting the alphabet, and answering questions correctly. The officer administering the test has discretion over whether or not he or she wants to administer these tests. If you refuse to take one of these field sobriety tests, it can be used against you in court.

If you are traveling in North Carolina  and have been pulled over by a police officer or highway patrol, you may be suspected of DWI- Driving While Intoxicated. If you are being asked to take a field sobriety test in North Carolina, here are some things to know about field sobriety tests and your rights in North Carolina.

How Field Sobriety Tests Work in the State of North Carolina

The field sobriety tests in North Carolina are used to determine whether someone has been drinking alcohol. They are administered by police officers during traffic stops and other situations where there is suspicion about driving under the influence.

In North Carolina, standard field sobriety tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. These tests help police officers identify signs of intoxication such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness while walking, swaying or staggering, and inability to follow instructions.

North Carolina’s Implied Consent Law

The law says that anyone operating a motor vehicle in NC must submit to a chemical analysis if they are arrested for driving while impaired (DWI), according to NCGS §20-4(1). However, there are exceptions to the mandatory testing requirement:

● If the person is unconscious, incapacitated, dead, or otherwise incapable of consenting to a chemical test

● If the officer did not observe signs of impairment

● If you have not yet been arrested

When the Implied Consent Law is in Effect

The implied consent law is now in effect in North Carolina. This means that drivers are legally obligated to submit to a chemical sobriety test after being arrested for driving while impaired. A driver cannot refuse to submit to a test.

The state does allow officers to administer field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests prior to an arrest. However, drivers can decline to take these tests. This does not mean that the officer won’t arrest you for DWI.

Penalties for Refusing a Sobriety Test

If you refuse to take a sobriety test, it could mean losing your driving privileges. This is because if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, officers can obtain a warrant and draw a blood sample from you. In North Carolina, if you refuse to take a blood test, you lose your license for at least 30 days. The state’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to chemical tests upon request from police.

Never Waive your Rights

The law requires police officers to inform motorists of their legal rights upon being stopped for traffic violations. This includes informing drivers that they have the right to refuse certain tests and that refusing such tests could result in revocation of their driver’s licenses.
You should never waive your rights when asked to do so by a police officer. It is important to know what your rights are before speaking with the officer. You have the right to remain silent. Do not answer questions without first consulting an attorney.

Defending a DWI refusal in North Carolina

If you are convicted of a DWI, you could face both civil and criminal consequences. In addition to losing your driver’s license, you could receive fines, jail time, or probation.
If you refuse the test, you may still have grounds to challenge the validity of the arrest. Your attorney can help you prepare for an administrative hearing, where you can argue that the police did not have adequate evidence to stop you. At the hearing, your attorney can present evidence that proves that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.

Consult a DWI Attorney in North Carolina

If you have a good DWI attorney like Dewey Brinkley, your attorney can defend against the charges and help you avoid a conviction. An experienced DWI lawyer should work hard to prove that the officer did not have enough evidence to stop you or challenge the prosecutor’s evidence presented against you.

If you have been arrested for a DWI and decided not to consent  to a field sobriety test in North Carolina, contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley at (919) 832-0307 or  use the online form. As a Raleigh based North Carolina DWI defense attorney, Mr. Brinkley works zealously to defend the rights of those accused of criminal acts.  It’s important to have the best legal representation possible when facing possible DWI charges.

Are DWI Records Public in North Carolina?

If you’ve ever been arrested for anything, it’s very possible that anyone can find it with some online or offline searching. This includes being arrested for a Driving While Impaired(DWI). Therefore DWI records are public in North Carolina.

In  general, criminal records are considered public information throughout the United States. For example in Florida,  every arrest, including court dates, is a public record and easily accessible. Criminal records are available through courthouses as well as “people finder” websites. Using these third-party websites is frequently easier because the information is not limited to availability by locale. Employers may do a search on you if you are applying for a job.

The information from third-party websites can serve as a starting point for anyone looking for a specific record or several records on an individual. However online search sites are not government-sponsored. Availability may vary by the provider and some of the information may not be entirely correct.

Freedom Of Information

Are DUI Records Public in North Carolina?No matter what you’ve been arrested for, including DWI, anyone can learn about your arrest through a public record search unless it’s been expuncted from your record, meaning removed, also called “expunged” in some states.

North Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law allows the public to inspect and examine government-created records. State public criminal records are available in several databases in North Carolina. They are maintained by the courts and law enforcement agencies. These records are also accessible online and allow citizens to request copies for reasonable fees.

North Carolina’s court system also maintains a complete database of charges (arrests) and convictions made in conjunction with law enforcement agencies throughout the state. You can obtain certified copies by mail or in person, or by visiting a local police station.

Wake County utilizes the North Carolina Public Records Law, found at N.C.G.S. Chapter 132, further explains public records. North Carolina requires that public records are to be made available to the public for a nominal cost or for free, as well as via Internet accessibility. Online access to these public records makes things easier for the public and saves Wake County time, money, and resources.

Effects of DWI Arrest

If you’ve been arrested, you will be required to disclose it when asked on employment applications, as well as applications for credit, college, and housing. The exception is if the arrest was expuncted from your record. In the case of DWI, expunction is only possible if the case was dismissed.  Please note, North Carolina does not allow for expunction of DWI convictions.  Be forewarned that if you don’t tell the truth on your application, a background check will certainly reveal the truth for you.

Another direct impact of a DWI arrest is the marked increase in your insurance rates. As a newly branded “high-risk driver,” your rates will increase almost instantly after your arrest. Many companies will refuse to insure drivers who have been arrested for DWI and drop you entirely. However, there are companies that will insure someone who has been arrested, albeit expensively.

Employment

Depending on the type of job you have, it is possible you could be terminated after an arrest for DWI. This is particularly true if driving is a vital part of your job. Bus drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers, and other driving-centric jobs may, at the least, suspend you after a DWI arrest.

If you are terminated and need to seek new employment, it is possible to find additional employment. However, you will be ineligible for several different types of jobs, including:

• Jobs in which you’re required to drive
• Military enlistment and other government jobs
• Jobs that require the handling of very confidential information
• Jobs that require working with children, such as daycare and teaching

During an interview, it’s best to wait until asked about any arrests or convictions, but of course, don’t lie. Give a brief description of the circumstances that led to the DWI, what you’ve done since then to correct things, including rehab, and what you learned.
Your DWI defense attorney can advise you on your case and how to proceed with the employment.

Fight The DWI

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who works to defend DWI cases. He will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. 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.

Can You Get Insured After A DWI In Raleigh, NC?

The aftermath of a DWI is devastating. Arrest. Court. Maybe even a conviction. You need time to sort through everything and put your life back together.

When everything’s all over, your license has been restored and you’re back driving again, there’s something else you’ll need before you get behind the wheel—car insurance. But can you get insured after a DWI?

Starting Over

Can You Get Insured After A DWI In Raleigh, NC?

Once your insurance company is informed of your DWI, your policy will either become much more expensive because of the higher risk, or it will be cancelled completely (usually in the form of non-renewal.)

In either case, you may have a difficult time getting insurance again. There are agencies who will issue a policy, but it could be drastically more expensive than before. There are some insurers that offer policies for people who have been arrested and/or convicted of a DWI.

If you have been able to acquire limited driving privileges, you’ll need to make sure you still have car insurance, or if you’ll need to find a new company.

How Long Will This Last?

North Carolina uses a point system, called the Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP). It’s used to calculate your insurance rates in the state. A DWI adds 12 points to your license at once, and your insurance can increase a whopping 400% after a conviction. (If you are a CDL holder and use it for your primary occupation, a DWI could cost you your livelihood.) Those points stay on your driving record for three years, and any additional infractions (tickets, accidents, etc.) will continue to add points and increase your insurance rates. Insurers only look at a driver’s previous three years to assess insurance rates.

Without any additional points, your rates should begin to decrease after three years.

Until Then

You may be stuck paying much higher insurance premiums due to the increased risk. Your liability limits are likely to be higher, too. Or you may decide to find another company that caters to DWI clients, and that might be less expensive. Once you have your license restored, you’ll need to prove to the state that you have auto insurance.

North Carolina requires anyone convicted of a DWI to complete an alcohol/ assessment, and may require an alcohol/drug treatment program during the license suspension.

Many North Carolina insurers will assume the increased risk of a DUI client, and offer policies with that risk. After the stark reality of a DWI, most people don’t repeat the behavior after completing the required processes, assessments and treatments.

Non-Owner’s Policy

One option is to consider is contacting a company that can offer you what’s called a “non-owner’s policy.” That is, you’re insured to drive, even though you don’t own a car However, there are limitations involved.

If you find yourself car-free after your DWI, and you aren’t buying one again for a while, a non-owner’s policy will allow you keep continuous insurance and drive occasionally (if you’re allowed to.)  This is important for future insurance rates as well. The key is whether or not you have “regular access to an automobile.” You’ll only be driving occasionally, not on a daily basis. After a DWI, this may be an option to consider.

We Can Help

Getting your life back together after a DWI in Raleigh isn’t easy. We’ve helped people like you in the Raleigh/Wake County area who have been through DWI. An aggressive DWI defense attorney can help you through the entire process, fight for you and help you get your life back. For a free consultation, contact our office at 919-832-0307 or use the contact form online.

3 DWI Defenses in North Carolina — Raleigh DWI Lawyer

3 DWI Defenses in North Carolina | Raleigh DWI Lawyer Dewey Brinkley

When stopped for DWI, blowing into the breathalyzer, or submitting a chemical test, it’s easy to think, “I’m getting a DWI; there’s no way out of this.” However, there are many ways to defend a DWI charge in North Carolina. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable Raleigh DWI lawyer, such as attorney Dewey P. Brinkley, you can confront the prosecution’s evidence and narrative while challenging the police’s reasons for stopping the vehicle as well as the procedures during the arrest and booking.

 

Remember, you have rights, and from the stop to the booking procedures at a Raleigh or Wake County court, Raleigh DWI lawyer Dewey Brinkley will use the full extent of North Carolina and federal laws to ensure that your rights are protected. For a free, no-obligation consultation with the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, call our Raleigh DWI defense firm today at (919) 832-0307.

The Knoll DWI Defense

The Knoll DWI defense is a common strategy when determining if the magistrate or law enforcement allowed the defendant a witness so that he/she could use his/her right to create a defense. This defense comes from the 1984 case of North Carolina v. David Knoll. In this case, Knoll was being charged with a DWI after blowing 0.30, but he was challenging the fact that the magistrate had violated his right to gain access to witnesses. The North Carolina court upheld Knoll’s defense, and found that the magistrate committed substantial statutory violations related to the setting of conditions of pretrial release that prejudiced the defendant’s ability to gain access to witnesses.

Especially in implied consent cases, it’s really important to allow defendants access to witnesses as quickly as possible. This is because the charge that you were impaired when driving requires a witness who may be able to rebut the allegations (or confirm them) by observing your behavior at a relevant time in reference to your driving.

Furthermore, the Knoll Defense can be effective when there is no “good” reason for the magistrate to set a secured bond and deny you this right to a witness; going through the process of posting a bond can take hours. If the witness would have been allowed immediate access to you, then your ability to prepare a defense may not have been prejudiced. As such, through the Knoll DWI defense, you and your attorney can argue that the violation led to irreparable prejudice as it relates to preparing your defense.

The Ferguson DWI Defense

In addition to the Knoll DWI defense, there is also the Ferguson DWI defense. This method refers to the 1988 case of North Carolina v. Walter Ferguson. In this case, Mr. Ferguson claimed that he was denied his Constitutional and statutory right to a witness to observe the breathalyzer test.

The “Ferguson method” is now known as a method to get a DWI dismissed on the grounds that the witness wasn’t allowed access to the intox room to observe the breath test. In North Carolina, when being arrested for a DWI, you have the right to 30 minutes to contact a witness and have that witness come down to the station to observe your breath test. If your witness arrives and isn’t allowed to the intox room to observe the process, then you may have a defense.

Like the Knoll defense, and especially in implied consent cases, there is a need to allow access to witnesses as quickly as possible.

The Absher DWI Defense

The Absher DWI defense refers to the 2009 case of North Carolina V. Paul Absher. In this case, Mr. Absher claimed that, since the video that was in the custody of the State had been destroyed, his case had been hurt as a result. As such, when defending a DWI, the “Absher method” is a way to get the DWI dismissed on the grounds that the government and/or law enforcement had destroyed or lost evidence that would have been favorable in your case.

Remember, the government has a duty to present evidence, even if it is favorable for the defendant. If the prosecution lost or destroyed the video record of the arrest, or perhaps the footage was mislabeled or it didn’t download properly on the police station’s servers, then you may have the possibility to get your DWI dismissed.

How Can Raleigh DWI Lawyer Brinkley Help

There are many ways to fight a DWI charge in North Carolina, but it’s essential to have an experienced and competent DWI lawyer who can maximize the benefit of these defenses while building evidence, witnesses, and a comprehensive narrative to fight for your rights and freedoms. Don’t let the numbers on the breathalyzer dictate the outcome of your DWI case, and call Raleigh DWI lawyer Dewey Brinkley today at (919) 832-0307. Free consultations are available.