Raleigh DWI Lawyer Warns Against Driving While Impaired Over the Holidays

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Recent enhancements to North Carolina's DWI laws and increases in Holiday enforcement mean people should avoid drinking and driving, says a Raleigh criminal lawyer.

Raleigh Criminal Lawyer Damon Chetson

Raleigh Criminal Lawyer Damon Chetson

In a worst case scenario, a person convicted of a DWI can be sentenced to up to three years in prison for a misdemeanor DWI and face fines of up to $10,000.

Recent enhancements to North Carolina's drunk driving laws could mean a rough holiday season for people caught drinking and driving on the state's roads, Raleigh criminal lawyer Damon Chetson said this week.

The changes to North Carolina's DWI law - N.C.G.S. Sec. 20-179 - are set to take effect as of any offense committed as of December 1, 2011, following the passage by the North Carolina General Assembly of House Bill 49.

The bill, passed over the summer and signed into law on June 23, adds a new sentencing level to North Carolina's already tough approach to Driving While Impaired offenses.

"In a worst case scenario, a person convicted of a DWI can be sentenced to up to three years in prison for a misdemeanor DWI and face fines of up to $10,000," said Mr. Chetson, who noted that such punishments are reserved for people convicted of a DWI in which there are more two grossly aggravating factors.

Mr. Chetson cautioned that the holiday season, with celebrations, parties, and increased consumption of alcohol, is often a time of increased DWI enforcement.

"Whether during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year's, we see an increased number of people caught drinking and driving," said Mr. Chetson, a Raleigh criminal lawyer. "Police officers and State Highway Patrol know this is a time when people are more likely to drink and drive, and the respond accordingly."

A North Carolina DWI conviction means, at a minimum, that the defendant loses his driving privileges for one year, must complete at least 24 hours of community service, and faces other potential fines and costs, as well as substantial increases in insurance premiums.

"Steps can be taken to successfully fight a DWI charge, and to allow the person in many cases to drive again," said Mr. Chetson. "If faced with a DWI, a person needs to consider fighting the charge."

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported more than 750 DWI arrests statewide during Halloween alone as part of its "Booze It & Loose It Campaign."

Mr. Chetson recommends being polite with an officer who has stopped a vehicle on suspicion of drunk driving, but also recommends against volunteering information.

"Give the officer your license and registration," Mr. Chetson recommends. "And exit the vehicle and comply with the officer's request to walk to an area safe for you and the officer."

"But don't answer questions about how much you've had to drink. And politely decline to perform the roadside tests offered by the officer," Mr. Chetson said. "You are not required to walk-a-line or count backwards, or do any other silly tests."

Disclaimer: While The Chetson Firm works hard to achieve the best possible results in every case it handles, no outcome can be guaranteed. Past results do not guarantee future results. Each case is different. If you are facing a criminal investigation or arrest, seek the immediate assistance of a criminal lawyer licensed in your state. The Chetson Firm's Raleigh criminal lawyers are licensed to practice in the state courts of North Carolina and in the federal courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

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