You’ve Been Arrested for DWI in Charlotte – What To Do Right Now?
First Our Credentials
North Carolina DWI lawyer Robert J. Reeves is a practicing trial attorney here in Charlotte with 25 years experience in both criminal and civil courts. He is licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Located across the street from the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Mr. Reeves focuses his criminal practice on Driving While Impaired (DWI) and Boating While Impaired (BWI) cases. He has undergone the same training as police and received certificates from the National Highway Transportation 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, Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and Super Lawyers. He 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. Every client is given his personal cell phone number 704-351-7979 and direct email address which is Robert@RJRlaw.com. 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.
The Arrest and DWI Investigation Process
If you’re reading this material, you or someone you care about has had a difficult 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 admitted to a few drinks but felt fine to drive. You would never drive if you thought for a moment you were unsafe. Nevertheless, life circumstances can change pretty quickly. You now find yourself facing a DWI arrest. You haven’t slept after having just spent a night in jail for the first time ever. Your driving record and maybe even your job is at risk. And, if you convicted, even though a DWI is a misdemeanor, you will be left with a permanent criminal record. There are also significant financial consequences. You will pay potentially thousands of dollars over the next few years in court costs, fines, and significantly higher automobile insurance rates in the future. All this for just having a few drinks with friends or a few beers at the game. So how did you get here?
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 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 tests 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, plan on spending the night in jail.
What To Do When Released
When you get out the next morning, 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 get 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 then 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.
Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)
The first thing almost every client wants to know is “when can I drive again?” After a DWI arrest, they are told before being released that their driving privileges are suspended for the next thirty (30) days. During the first ten (10) days, you cannot legally drive at all. However, we will assist you during that period in gathering all necessary information and then prepare documents for a Limited Driving Privilege. On the eleventh (11th) day after your arrest, we will appear in front of and request a District Court judge to sign and approve your privilege. We then file it with the court, pay your $100 fee, and get you back on the road. After thirty (30) days from your arrest date, you are able to get your original license returned after payment of another $100 fee to the State. We explain this procedure in detail in other sections of this website. Of course, you can call us, and we will further explain what needs to be done.
What is 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 a lawyer, you will sign a Waiver of Appearance form so that we can then 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 same, 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, 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 a DWI Case Worth Fighting?
Absolutely. A DWI arrest is a misdemeanor, not a felony. But, if convicted or pled 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 toughest DWI laws in the country, subject to few legal, rather than factual, defenses. You are beginning a very stressful time in your life. That’s 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 is always yours.
Burden of Proof on State of North Carolina
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.” Unlike some firms, we do not charge a consultation fee. After all, we are interviewing to become your lawyer. However, the legal advice and guidance we provide will help you sleep better tonight even if you don’t retain our services. We tell every potential client that their choice on who to represent them should be made carefully after thorough review of available DWI lawyers here in Charlotte. Of course, we want to be considered and will do our best for you if you place your trust in our firm. Call us now and let’s get started.