Various public awareness campaigns over the last several decades have called attention to the dangers of drunk driving, and North Carolina as well as other states have enacted strict laws with harsh punishments. Alleged offenders may be charged with the crime North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1 defines as impaired driving, commonly referred to as driving while impaired, driving while intoxicated, or simply DWI.
While this criminal offense is typically associated with alcohol, people may also be charged if police officers believe they were driving under the influence of a controlled substance or impairing substance. It is important to understand that these substances may include perfectly legal prescriptions or over-the-counter medications as well as illegal drugs.
Were you recently arrested for DWI because you were allegedly under the influence of an impairing substance or controlled substance? Contact Coolidge Law Firm as soon as possible to make sure that you have skilled legal representation fighting to protect your rights.
Our Wake County drugged driving attorneys represent clients throughout the greater Raleigh area, including Cary, Apex, Wake Forest, Garner, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville, and many other communities. Call (919) 239-8448 right now to have our firm provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Traditional DWI arrests in Tar Heel State involving alcohol often rely on alleged offenders having alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or more. However, North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1 lists two other ways that a person may be charge with this crime:
DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, but there are six different levels of punishment of this criminal offense. An alleged offender’s punishment level is determined at a sentencing hearing in which a judge weighs various aggravating and mitigating factors.
Under North Carolina General Statute § 20-179, a judge determines whether an alleged offender is subject to a Level Five, Level Four, or Level Three punishment based on whether there are more or less aggravating factors than mitigating factors. The Statute requires that a judge impose a Level Two, Level One, or Aggravated Level One punishment if there are a certain number of grossly aggravating factors.
Grossly aggravating factors under North Carolina General Statute § 20-179(c) include:
Grossly aggravating factors determine Level Two, Level One, and Aggravated Level One punishments. These punishment levels do not consider the existence of other mitigating or aggravating factors.
Aggravating factors and mitigating factors are used to determine Level Five, Level Four, and Level Three punishment levels. Aggravating factors under North Carolina General Statute § 20-179(d) include:
Mitigating factors under North Carolina General Statute § 20-179(e) include:
After a judge reviews all of these factors, a punishment level will be set according to the following standards:
The possible punishments alleged offenders face if they are convicted of DWIs involving controlled substances depend on the punishment levels they are assigned. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute § 20-179, the statutory maximum possible sentences can include:
A person may be charged with this crime for having any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in his blood or urine. There are well over 100 different controlled substances listed among those classified as Schedule I in North Carolina General Statute § 90-89.
Alleged offenders who submit to tests of their blood or urine can be charged with DWIs involving controlled substances even if the Schedule I controlled substances were not active at the times they were driving. Even with casual users, Schedule I substances such as methaqualone, phencyclidine (PCP), or 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy) may still be detectable in a person’s urine and blood several days after its original consumption. Among more frequent users, certain drugs can stay in a person’s blood or urine for as long as a month.
Marijuana is an illegal drug that can stay in a person’s system for an especially long time. Even though cannabis is technically classified as a Schedule VI controlled substance in North Carolina, it can still be considered an impairing substance for the purposes of a DWI charge.
It is critical for motorists to remember that they are not required to provide any type of specimen for drug testing, despite what police officers might lead them to believe. While this will trigger an automatic revocation of driving privileges, it will also leave any prosecutor with no physical evidence of alleged impairment.
Even when a person does submit to testing, numerous errors or oversights by officers or other people responsible for samples can lead to false positives. An experienced attorney can review how these tests were conducted and handled. Mistakes may lead to criminal charges being significantly reduced or completely dismissed.
If you have been charged with DWI in North Carolina for allegedly being impaired by a controlled substance, you need skilled legal counsel. Coolidge Law Firm represents clients throughout Wake County, including students at such institutions of higher learning in the Research Triangle area as North Carolina State University, Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), Meredith College, William Peace University, Shaw University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).
Our firm knows how to fight these types of charges, and we will fully investigate every aspect of your arrest to develop the strongest possible defense. Impaired Driving Attorney David Coolidge never simply pleads a client guilty. Your case will be thoroughly evaluated and skillfully prepared for trial. You can have our Wake County controlled substance DWI attorneys review your case as soon as you call (919) 239-8448 to take advantage of a free consultation.