DWI Arrest in Charlotte – What To Expect. What You Need to Know.
First Priority – Getting Your License Back
After a DWI arrest, the most immediate concern with every new client is how to get their license back as soon as possible. They need to be able to legally drive again. We understand. When arrested, the police took your license and said you were suspended and cannot drive for thirty (30) days. You still have to get to work, go to school, pick up your children, etc. So what are you supposed to do here? Try not to worry. This is our first priority as well. Under North Carolina law, you actually have two (2) options available to get back on the road. We will explain further below.
NC DMV Suspension Challenge
The first and best option is to request a DMV challenge hearing. This is an expedited procedure in which the State of North Carolina must be given up to three (3) days notice to be heard. After that period, or if the State elects to waive this notice, we will appear in front of a District Court judge on your behalf. You do not have to be present. If approved, your license is restored in full. No restrictions or limitations (other than any that may have already existed). Clients naturally prefer this option because it is much faster and does not have the additional costs associated with a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP). We will explain further below.
Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)
If the DMV challenge hearing is rejected, we can then petition for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) after ten (10) days from the date arrested. This process requires two items from our client. First, they will have to have a substance abuse assessment (just the assessment, not the treatment) which costs $100 paid to the facility. Next, the client will need to have their insurance company send confirmation to our firm of existing coverage on a Form DL-123. We will prepare the necessary documents and submit to a District Court judge for approval. After the judge signs, we file the executed LDP along with your $100 fee to the State of North Carolina. These documents then become your “license” for the next twenty (20) days. It is not your former license. You are restricted to driving only to and from work during certain time periods. The “standard” LDP is available Monday through Friday, 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. There are now other exceptions to include going to church and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After thirty (30) days from arrest, you will then have to pay another $100 fee to the State of North Carolina to fully restore your license (NC resident) or driving privileges (out of state resident) in full. After this process is completed, your license is then the way it was before your DWI arrest.
What the State Has to Prove to Win
The State has to prove three (3) things to win their case against you: (1) driving, (2) on a public roadway in Mecklenburg County, and (3) BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.o8 or greater and/or mental/physical impairment. The first two elements are usually a given. But not always. It is the third element that is most often contested. If there is a BAC “number,” we challenge the reliability of the “machine” and so-called “breath testing.” If your BAC is low, we argue the inherent failings and margins for error associated with any mechanical device. If your BAC is high, we look to see if your video reflects the actions of someone who is truly impaired. If there is no BAC (refusal or machine fails to record a sample), we highlight those behaviors shown on video that show you to not be legally or practically impaired. We invite you to come into our office and let us explain in greater detail our evaluation process and strategies used in DWI trials.
Focused Charlotte DWI Arrest Practice
North Carolina DUI laws are complex. The stakes are high even for a first offense with no prior criminal record. That is why we focus our North Carolina criminal practice on DWI cases. We may occasionally handle other serious criminal cases. But our primary focus and passion is helping clients charged with DWI and the attending DMV issues. We know you have many choices here in Charlotte as to which law firm to represent you. We are honored to be considered. We encourage you to research several law firms and compare our credentials and experience against anyone. After your initial research, we invite you to personally meet with several attorneys before making your final decision. We would be happy to sit down and go over your case and review your concerns. We welcome you to ask us the hard questions. Ask things like how often do you handle DWI cases? How often do you actually go to trial in DUI arrests? Are you personally available after regular business hours or weekends if I need answers? Once you have met with several attorneys, you will then know who makes you the most comfortable and who you would prefer to defend your case. We hope that your final choice will be our firm.
Common searches on the internet often include variations of “who is the best DUI attorney in Charlotte” Here is the simple truth on this issue. You will have to decide ultimately who is the “best Charlotte DWI lawyer” to represent you. And your final choice will be based on your circumstances and a particular lawyer’s credentials, experience, and even demeanor. This first decision of who to defend you is critical and should be considered carefully. After you have done your research and actually met with several attorneys, you will then know who gives you the most confidence while also putting you at ease. We are honored to be considered and look forward to meeting with you.
Our Credentials and Experience
Charlotte DWI lawyer Robert J. Reeves is a practicing trial attorney located here in Mecklenburg County with over 27 years litigation experience in both criminal and civil courts. He is licensed in North Carolina (1996) as well as South Carolina (1989). Located across the street from the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Mr. Reeves focuses his criminal practice on Driving While Impaired (DWI) and cases. He has undergone the same training as police and has received certificates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in both DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing as well as the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). Mr. Reeves is an accomplished trial attorney who has been inducted into the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense. Mr. Reeves will work tirelessly on your behalf and makes himself personally available to his clients to answer questions when you need him – evenings, weekends, and holidays. Mr. Reeves’ direct mobile phone number is 704.351.7979 and his direct email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org. We know how stressful this ordeal is to you and will do everything we can to ease your burden. We are going to be engaged in every step of the process, and Mr. Reeves will be there to guide you from start to finish.
Charlotte DWI attorney G. Anthony Wayne works with Mr. Reeves in DUI defense and resolves DMV licensing issues for our clients. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Campbell University School of Law. Mr. Wayne devotes his practice to DWI and has completed training in DWI Investigation and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. This is the same course taken by police and results in a certificate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We feel it is important to undergo the same police training process so that we can more effectively challenge issues with police procedure and errors in field sobriety testing. In our view, NHTSA training should be expected of all DWI defense lawyers. You should know what the police know so that you can effectively challenge and even refute improper procedure during a DUI arrest. It is critically important to challenge every aspect of a DUI stop and investigation from start to finish in the arrest process. Mr. Wayne’s direct mobile phone number is 704.960.9097 and his direct email address which is email@example.com.
Direct Access to Your Lawyer
In this era of smart phones and email, there is no excuse to not be able to speak directly with your lawyer. Paralegals are great, but there will be times when you really need to talk to your lawyer. We understand the anxiety a DWI can cause. That’s why each of our clients has our mobile phone numbers and direct email addresses. We appreciate the stress you are feeling and pledge to help by being there when you need us. We will answer your questions and concerns even if if is after the “traditional” business hours. We respond in the evenings and weekends because we know a little information and guidance will help you sleep better. That’s what you should expect when you hire a lawyer. That’s what you will get if you retain our firm.
DWI Arrest and Investigation
If you’re reading this material, we know that you or someone you care about has probably had a long night. On the way home from dinner or an evening out, you were stopped by police or came upon a DWI checkpoint. You may have had a few drinks but felt fine to drive. Of course, you would never have driven if you thought for a moment you were unsafe. You are a responsible person who does not take chances. Nevertheless, life circumstances can change pretty quickly, and you now find yourself facing a DWI arrest. You still cannot believe this is actually happening. There are many emotions and fears coming into play. Your mind may be racing. Try not to worry. Defending a DWI is a process and it will take time to work through the various stages. That’s where our firm can help. We can answer your initial questions and explain what to expect.
You probably have not had much sleep after having spent the night in jail. You are anxious about being able to drive and what may even happen with your job. You wonder how your spouse is going to react. In short, right now, you are worried about everything. Is a DWI a felony or a misdemeanor? Will a conviction result in a permanent criminal record? What is this going to cost? What are the court costs and fines? What is this arrest going to do to my automobile insurance rates? How much does an experienced DWI lawyer charge? These are all good questions, and we can help get you answers to all of them. And more.
The DWI Arrest
Regardless of the reason you were initially stopped by police, everything changes once the officer detects any alcohol on your breath. At that point, the focus shifts to a DWI investigation and a DWI arrest. First, you will be asked a series of questions while gathering requested documents such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance cards. These are “divided attention” tasks. Next, you will be asked to step out of your car and perform “Field Sobriety Tests” on the side of the road. The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn (WAT), and One Leg Stand (OLS).
These sanctioned tests, even if properly administered, are difficult to successfully perform under the best of conditions and without the anxiety of being investigated by police. Even though you may feel like you did well, almost everyone “fails” and gets arrested. You have something of a choice on whether to attempt to comply, but the outcome is usually the same regardless of your good intentions. If you submit to testing, you will most probably fail and be arrested. If you decline testing, you absolutely will be arrested. You get the idea here. Either way, once the investigation starts, you can plan on going to jail.
What To Do When Released
The morning after you get out, the first thing you need to do is to consult with an experienced Charlotte DWI attorney. There are a lot of lawyers who aggressively market for DWI cases. Over the next few days, you’re going to receive a significant amount of unsolicited mail from lawyers trying to convince you to hire them. Friends and co-workers will typically want to help and will make suggestions. Almost everyone seems to “know a good lawyer” and how a DWI arrest is supposed to go. We respectfully suggest you do your own research before deciding.
The lawyer you ultimately retain can make a real difference in the outcome of your case. Check out their experience and credentials. You may even want to meet and interview several attorneys. Then, after you have completed a thorough review, you are in a position to make your best choice of who will handle your case. Go with the lawyer who gives you the most confidence and makes you the most comfortable.
The DWI Court Process
Your first court date and time is shown on the arrest documents given to you when released. All Charlotte DWI cases start in Courtroom 1130 at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. If you hire our firm, you will sign a Waiver of Appearance form so that we can appear on your behalf. You will not have to be there. On that first date, we will examine all documents in your file and request a second court date in 1130. As before, you will not have to be at that next court date. In the meantime, we will file several standard Motions and request any video evidence that may be available in your case. After the second court date in 1130, your case will start being scheduled on the fourth floor, or the District Court level.
At those scheduled dates, you will have to be present. Our office will send you letters after each court appearance with the new date, time, and courtroom number. There will be several more court dates while we continue to collect all of the State’s evidence, including video. We will also personally speak with the arresting officer to learn what was recorded about the circumstances of your arrest. Once we have all the evidence and have carefully reviewed it, we will then be in a position to go over your options so that you can decide what is best for you. We will answer all of your questions, review the pros and cons of your case, and make recommendations. Then, you will decide how you want to proceed. We never pressure our clients on any course of action. Rather, we advise and suggest options. It is always your case and your decision. We always remember that we work for you.
Is Your DWI Arrest Worth Fighting?
Absolutely. You would expect a DWI lawyer to give such advice. After all, that’s how we make our living. But let us explain why it is worth the investment to aggressively fight a DWI arrest. Don’t think that this process will be easy. North Carolina DWI laws are heavily stacked in favor of the State. No shock here. Legislators working for the State naturally err in their own favor. However, you have certain critical rights in any criminal offense, and a DWI arrest results in a criminal charge. But, even after 25 years practicing law, I still remain in awe of the power and wisdom of a jury at trial. Jurors are people just like you and me who appreciate and understand what you are facing. After all, it could be them sitting there one day accused of a crime. Few people ever expect a DWI arrest. They are good people who believe they are acting responsibly. They limit their alcohol intake and would never knowingly drive if they felt they were unsafe. On the street and in the courtroom, the police have all of the advantages and resources. That is why the burden of proof is solely on the State of North Carolina, and they must prove you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” as to all elements of the DUI crime. While your first stage of a DWI is handled in District Court before a judge, you have the absolute right to appeal to Superior Court where you get a trial by jury. We explain the process in greater detail below.
A DWI arrest is a misdemeanor, not a felony. But, if you are convicted or plead guilty, a DWI results in a permanent criminal record that can never be expunged even years later. As with all criminal charges, a DWI should be thoroughly investigated and aggressively defended. The burden of proof is on the State of North Carolina, and the prosecution must prove all elements “beyond a reasonable doubt.” North Carolina has some of the strictest DWI laws in the country, but subject to both legal and factual defenses. You are beginning what can be a very stressful time in your life. This is why hiring an experienced DWI attorney is critical. We know and understand what is involved and how this process works. We can explain what to expect and answer the questions that are waking you up at night. Then, we can collect all of the State’s evidence and then sit down and review a strategy for your case. If you decide to fight the charges, we will get ready for trial. If you decide to plea, we will prepare available mitigators with the goal of minimizing your ultimate punishment level and sentence. The choice of how to proceed in your case is always yours. You are the client. We always remember that we work for you.
Burden of Proof Entirely on the State
A DWI arrest is much different from a DWI conviction. Being charged is NOT the same as being found guilty. Because a DWI is a criminal matter, you are innocent until proven guilty. The State must prove each element of the DWI charge and must present evidence that convicts “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a significant standard for the police to meet in order to prove their case against you. If you hire us, we will conduct a thorough “top to bottom” review of your case and all of the State’s evidence.
We begin with “reasonable suspicion” and the DWI investigation protocol under NHTSA guidelines. We then proceed to determine if there was sufficient “probable cause” to arrest and if the police followed all mandates with regards to implied consent rights and administration of breath or blood testing. After we have completed our review, we will discuss your options and give you our recommendations. Then, after we answer your questions and address your concerns, you decide how you want to go forward with your case. Plea or trial is always your decision after our counsel.
Thank you for visiting our firm’s website. Instead of the usual endless sales pitches on most DWI websites, we have put a lot of real information about what you are facing and what you can expect. We hope the content here helps answer some of your most pressing initial questions. After you have had an opportunity to read this material, the next step is to call us for a thorough, comprehensive review your particular case. Every case is unique, and individual facts can make a real difference in outcome. We will give you a candid assessment and explain your “worst case scenario.”
What to Do Right Now
Unlike some firms, we do not charge an initial consultation fee. After all, we are the ones interviewing to become your lawyer. The legal advice and guidance we provide will help you sleep better tonight even if you retain another firm. We tell every potential client that their choice on which DUI attorney to represent them should be made very carefully after a thorough review of several DWI lawyers here in Charlotte. Of course, we are honored to be considered and pledge to do our best if you place your trust in our firm. Call us now for an appointment at 704.334.7897 or contact us online and let’s get started. We look forward to speaking with you.