According to the North Carolina Judicial Department, there were 57,261 impaired driving charges and implied consent charges during the fiscal year between 2013 and 2014. It is no secret that North Carolina aggressively pursues and prosecutes drunk driving. The implied consent required for obtaining a North Carolina driver’s license is only one of the many ways that North Carolina aggressively fights DWI within its borders. North Carolina uses implied consent and license suspension as a way to encourage drivers to submit to a breathalyzer test at a DWI stop.
Implied Consent and License Suspension
The implied consent law is designed to require drivers to take a breath or blood test (“chemical analysis”) when suspected of impaired driving or face the loss of their license. The theory is that anybody who chooses to drive in North Carolina is consenting to be tested if they are later suspected of DWI, and if you later refuse the test then you also lose your license. As a practical matter, the implied consent law is a tool used to coerce drivers into providing evidence that might later be used against them in court.
If you submit to chemical analysis and your BAC is reported to be over the legal limit (.08% for most drivers, less for commercial drivers and persons under the legal drinking age) then your driving privilege will be suspended for 30 days immediately. This is called a 30-day civil revocation. In situations where a person submits to a blood test, because the test results are not immediately available the civil revocation will start after the test is done, which can take several months. Once the civil revocation period is over a person can reinstate their license by paying a $100 civil revocation fee at the courthouse.
If you refuse a chemical analysis then the court will suspend your driving privilege for 30 days right away, just as if you had taken the test and had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. In addition, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege for a full year as a consequence of the refusal. This suspension will remain in effect even if you are later found not guilty of the DWI charge itself!
You have the right to contest both the 30-day civil revocation at a special court hearing and the one-year refusal suspension at an administrative hearing at the DMV. Your window of time to request these hearings is very limited. An experienced DWI lawyer can be very helpful in both requesting and representing you at a hearing. If you have recently been charged with driving while impaired you ought to consult with a good DWI lawyer immediately to preserve these rights.
DWI Convictions and License Suspension
If you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, you will face license suspension. The exact duration of the suspension will depend on whether you have any prior convictions for impaired driving in the past.
For a first offense DWI, license suspension is for one year. This suspension period starts on the date of the conviction, so it may overlap with other related suspensions such as for a refusal of a breath or blood test. Most people are eligible for a limited driving privilege to cover most or all of this suspension and which will allow them to drive to work or school.
For a second offense, license suspension is increased to four years. After two years a person may apply to the DMV for a conditional restoration of their driving privilege, but they must first have a hearing with the DMV before having their driving privilege restored. Generally, a person is not eligible for any sort of limited driving privilege when suspended for a second or subsequent DWI conviction unless the cases were more than seven years apart.
A third DWI conviction results in a permanent license suspension. Note that the various suspension periods discuss here are based on some assumptions about typical cases. Prior DWI convictions that took place many years previously may not be counted for purposes of calculating a suspension, and convictions from other states may or may not be considered by the DMV.
The Importance of a Hiring a DWI Lawyer
Regardless of whether you choose to take the breathalyzer test, it is vital that you contact a DWI lawyer as soon as possible. Your DWI attorney will help you with license suspension issues as well as help you present a strong defense to the DWI charge. Fines, jail time and license suspension are severe consequences of a North Carolina DWI charge. Do not risk your freedom or your driving privileges by ignoring the seriousness of a DWI charge.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DWI Attorney
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The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm, LLP is a full-service Jacksonville Criminal and Civil law firm that is committed to providing results-driven legal representation to businesses and individuals seeking an alternative to large-firm representation. We focus on getting you the results you want while offering you a cost-effective solution to your legal needs. We understand that we work for our clients; therefore; our attorneys communicate regularly with each client to ensure that the client knows what is going on with the case.
When you have legal problems, you need an experienced legal professional in your corner. No matter the case, you should have an attorney working for you who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.