In North Carolina, police officers use a combination of chemical and physical tests to determine whether a driver is impaired due to alcohol or drug use. Although these tests may seem like basic requests, such as counting backwards from 10, putting your finger on your nose and walking in a straight line, or foolproof, like a Breathalyzer that analyzes blood alcohol content, they could be detrimental to defending a driver after an arrest.
A traffic stop for drunk driving can be intimidating, especially if you are alone, have had a drink or two, or are in an unfamiliar area. But before you panic, it is important to remember that you have rights that you can exercise during the stop and after to ensure you are given a fair chance to defend yourself.
Before the Arrest
DUI/DWI traffic stops typically occur when an officer sees erratic driving, such as lane-switching, swerving, drastic speed changes or otherwise inconsistent behavior. After an officer pulls you over, he or she will often ask you to perform a series of sobriety tests to determine how impaired your vision, concentration, and motor skills are—or if they are even impaired at all. They may also ask you to provide a breath sample to determine how much alcohol is in your system.
When you are first pulled over, if you have not yet been arrested, you have options available to you during your traffic stop. In North Carolina, you are allowed to refuse to submit to any sobriety testing, including a Breathalyzer. You may be arrested for refusing and may lose your license for a year, but in some cases, having no hard evidence of an elevated blood alcohol content can work in your favor. Without evidence, the police have a harder time proving you were drunk at the time of your arrest when your case goes to court.
After an Arrest
If your traffic stop ends with the officer arresting and charging you with a DWI, there is no need to panic. The onus is on the officer to prove whether you were drunk at the time and if there is no evidence or shaky evidence to support this claim, it may be more difficult to prove the charges. Even if you did provide a breath sample that showed you at the legal limit of 0.08 or higher, you can still defend against a DWI charge.
Call an Attorney
A drunk driving charge can be devastating for a driver and could lead to serious consequences, including fines, jail time and license suspension. If you have been arrested on DWI/DUI charges, contact a DWI/DUI lawyer in Raleigh today. At Cheshire, Parker, Schneider and Bryan, we offer legal counsel and representation to any clients who want to fight their DWI charges. Call our law office to discuss your case today.