DWI Offenses in North Carolina
BY VELASQUEZ & ASSOCIATES
DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. The most common way to determine whether a person is under the influence of alcohol is through a “Blood Alcohol Concentration” Test (BAC). Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is used as evidence of driving under the influence and it is illegal in North Carolina. Generally, in North Carolina your first DWI charge will be considered a misdemeanor offense. A first offender could be punished with fines, community service, license suspension, and possible probation.
When someone is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, the police performs a preliminary breath test “PBT”. The outcome of this preliminary test is one of the factors that the officer considers in determining whether a person should be arrested for driving under the influence. A positive result, combined with other factors, gives the officer the right to arrest a person.
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Once the individual is arrested, the police officer informs verbally and in writing that if the suspect refuses to take a second breath test, the suspect will lose his/her license or driving privilege for at least one year. The second breath test is usually administered in jail . The officer uses the breathalyzer or “Intoximeter” to administer the test. A positive result is used as evidence of driving under the influence in the courts of North Carolina.
While it is true that a blood test is the most accurate way to measure BAC, the most common and the most widely used test in the courts it is the breathalyzer. The problem with this is that there are some substances that yield positive results when a breath machine is used. For example, sometimes certain substances yield positive results of a breathalyzer test because they can appear in large numbers in someone with medical problems such as diabetes. There have been occasions when fumes from adhesives or paints have also caused confusion.
Due to the lack of precision and reliability of the machines of breath, and other factors that make DWI cases are complicated, it is never advisable to plead guilty to a DWI charge before consulting with an attorney. If you are accused of driving under the influence or have questions, please call us.