Knowing what to expect during a driving while impaired (DWI) traffic stop, charge, and arrest can significantly impact your ability to protect your rights and act within your best interests. What happens during and after your traffic stop can provide the prosecution with crucial evidence to convict you of DWI in North Carolina – a serious offense that could lead to lifelong consequences. On the other hand, your actions and wise decision-making during a stop could potentially protect you from a conviction.
The Traffic Stop
A DWI traffic stop in North Carolina can happen in a few different ways. A law enforcement official may notice you driving erratically or breaking another traffic law and have reasonable suspicion to make a stop. The official may then notice alcohol on your breath or another sign of impairment and begin the process for testing for DWI. In another scenario, an official may stop vehicles at a traffic checkpoint, checking for impaired drivers and making arrests.
A third situation may be an anonymous caller sending a tip that you’re driving erratically and law officials tracking down your vehicle and performing a stop. Each situation comes with its own potential defenses during a trial. In each DWI stop situation, you have the right, in North Carolina, to refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine sobriety test. You may also refuse to perform field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn test or balance tests.
In NC, there is a penalty for refusing a breathalyzer test: a one-year license suspension. In many cases, however, a driver can regain limited driving privileges after six months. Taking the tests, on the other hand, could lead to scientific proof that you were driving impaired – strong evidence against you in court.
There are certain rules an officer needs to follow during a traffic stop and arrest. First, the officer needs reasonable articulable suspicion to pull you over. Second, the officer needs to inform you of your rights if he or she is performing an arrest. If an officer fails to read your Miranda rights, forces you to comply with sobriety tests, or otherwise acts outside or his or her proper duties, an attorney can use this information against the prosecution during a trial.
During an arrest, comply with the officer and don’t say or do anything to incriminate yourself. Don’t admit that you’ve been drinking, even if it’s just to say you had a glass of wine with dinner. Any information you give the officer during your arrest can show up again during your trial as evidence of your impairment. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to spend the night in jail. Contact an attorney as soon as possible in the event of a DWI arrest in North Carolina. Speaking with a Raleigh DWI lawyer in this difficult time can make or break the rest of your case.
After the Arrest
In Raleigh and other cities in NC, you have the right to call a defense attorney during a traffic stop and DWI investigation. You can speak with an attorney in real time and ask for legal advice, such as whether or not to submit to sobriety tests. You may also request a witness to come watch you take the breath test at the station or checkpoint– as long as the witness can be there within 30 minutes of being advised of your breath test rights.
If an officer stops you for DWI in Raleigh, call (919) 457-1954 to speak with an attorney from Scharff Law Firm. We can give you legal advice depending on your situation, improving your chances of neither saying nor doing something to incriminate yourself. We’ll stand by your side through the entire DWI process, including defending your rights in trial if necessary. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.