Arrest for driving while intoxicated in North Carolina can be intimidating to many people. Dealing with police, chemical tests, and all the other things associated with DWI can feel overwhelming. However, it’s important to not lose sight of one very important detail: You have rights.
It’s a good thing to review your DWI stop and subsequent arrest through the lens of your rights so that you can make sure they were not infringed upon at any point in the process. A good place to start is asking yourself if your DWI stop itself was even legal – then understanding if everything that proceeded from that point happened legally, as well.
Here are some of the most common questions people have related to their rights when it comes to North Carolina DWIs.
The Traffic Stop
The police do not have the right to simply pull you over. They must have probable cause to stop your vehicle, like weaving in the lanes or running a stop sign. They cannot simply have a hunch that you may have been drinking because of where you are or what time it is.
During a stop, they can ask for your driver’s license, as well as your vehicle registration. They can also ask questions to find out if you are actually impaired, i.e. “Have you been drinking?”
You cannot lie to the officer, but you can decline to answer questions that may incriminate you. If they suspect you’re impaired, then they will likely test you to find out.
What About During Arrest?
If you are arrested, you may be wondering if you should be read your Miranda Rights. It’s not uncommon for officers in North Carolina to refrain from reading your rights to you when you are arrested for a DWI. You may think that this will tank the case against you, but that may not be true. It’s not the things you say that can be used against you in court but other factors that count more – such as your blood or breath alcohol test or results of field sobriety tests.
Can You Consult an Attorney Before a Chemical Test?
You do have the right to talk to an attorney before allowing a blood or urine test to be completed. However, this right cannot lead to an unusual delay in testing. You have 30 minutes from the time you are notified of your right to talk to a lawyer to contact an attorney. After that, you’ve given your implied consent to be tested and therefore must proceed – or you could face charges for refusing.
Do You Have to Test Over the Legal Blood Alcohol Limit to be Charged?
In North Carolina, you don’t have to be over the legal blood alcohol limit to be charged with a DWI. If police observe you driving in a way that proves you are impaired, then you can still face charges. In these cases, the officer is making a judgment call that you are impaired, which may make it easier to fight back against the charges.
Being accused of a DWI in North Carolina is a weighty charge, and you need to be serious about fighting it. That’s why it’s in your best interest to bring an attorney on your case as soon as possible. This will ensure you understand the charges against you and that your rights are not being violated.