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During a trial for DWI the State does have the burden of proving all the essential elements of the crime including that the defendant was intoxicated. This element can be proven in a variety of different ways and does not necessarily mean the State has to show the defendant had a BAC of .08 or more. The act of driving under the influence of an impairing substance and driving with a BAC of .08 are two distinct ways that someone can commit the offense of DWI in North Carolina. N.C.G.S.A. 20-138.1 (a).

The State can prove that a driver was intoxicated in cases where the defendant’s BAC is unknown or less than .08. In the case of State v. Taylor a state trooper testified he could smell an odor of alcohol on the defendant, that the defendant needed help walking to patrol car, that the defendant had difficulty writing his statement on appropriate line, that he had a blank face, and that he did not perform satisfactorily on field sobriety test was sufficient for the court to find the evidence sufficient to support that the defendant had consumed a sufficient amount of alcohol to impair his mental and physical abilities. State v. Taylor, 165 N.C. App. 750 (2004).

Generally in North Carolina courts give deference to a law enforcement officer’s testimony regarding the impairment of a driver as long as it is not solely based on the odor of alcohol. Basically as long as an officer can testify to enough factors that a reasonable inference could be drawn that someone is intoxicated this may be used to prove intoxication even where the State does not have any further evidence.

If you should find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DWI you need to contact an attorney who has the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your case with the care it deserves. We defend DWIs and DUIs in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Pineville, Cornelius, Huntersville, Lake Norman, Pineville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and UNCC. For a private, confidential consultation with one of our experienced DWI lawyers, please call 704-499-9000 or toll-free 877-374-5999 even on weekends or holidays. Visit our main page for more information here.