What Should I Do if I’m Pulled Over for DWI in North Carolina?

Drunk driving took a terrible toll in North Carolina in 2018 as 29% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While deaths from motor vehicle crashes decreased overall across the country, the NHTSA annual report shows drunk-driving fatalities increased by 5% in The Tar Heel State.

Be Respectful but Don’t Help Officers

Driving while impaired is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs as it creates unnecessary risks for you and others on the road. However, an officer must have probable cause to stop you and conduct field sobriety and breath tests. If you are stopped, there are five things to keep in mind:

  • Stay in your car: If you see flashing lights in your mirror, pull safely to the side of the road and turn off your vehicle. Remove any hats, glasses or hoods you may be wearing and place your hands on the steering wheel. Do not get out of the car unless asked by the officer.
  • Be polite: While getting pulled over can be a frightening experience, being uncooperative with officers will only make things worse. Any bad behavior, such as swearing, disobeying orders, or trying to leave the scene can result in additional charges.
  • Invoke your rights: While you should be respectful to officers and follow their instructions, you are under no obligation to incriminate yourself. Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to remain silent and should never offer any information that could implicate you.
  • Honesty is not the best policy: Insisting to officers that you only had one drink will not likely help your case. While it’s essential to cooperate, you do not want to offer any additional information, such as how many drinks you had, where you were or who you were with.
  • Remain calm: Being arrested can be scary, but it’s vital to stay composed, ask for a lawyer, and remember not to say anything that can be used against you in court. Your attorney will vigorously defend your rights and challenge sobriety testing procedures and results.

Being Charged with DWI Doesn’t Mean You Are Guilty

There are several successful arguments defense lawyers can pursue in DWI cases. First, did the officer have probable cause to pull you over? Also, thousands of breath tests have been tossed out by judges in several states due to unreliable testing units, or those conducted by officers who are not properly trained. In many cases, charges are reduced or dropped.


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