Is this DUI Your First Contact with Law Enforcement

Getting stopped for a DUI in any state can make you anxious, even if you hadn’t had a drop, but knowing what to expect and how to handle the police in Asheville can help ease your mind. However, remember that getting convicted of a DUI can be a life-altering ordeal. Even if this is the first time you’ve had to deal with law enforcement, the ramifications can be pervasive.

As the officer approaches your car, your mind will most likely be racing over the consequences that you may face. However, knowing your rights and what to expect can greatly affect the outcome of your first encounter with law enforcement.

What Constitutes a DUI

Before you can prepare yourself with dealing with the police, you need to know what you can earn you a DUI. According to the North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1, you can be charged and convicted of driving under the influence, if the district attorney can prove that you were operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by an impairing substance.

Even if this is your first offense, you are considered driving while under the influence if your blood alcohol content (BAC) shows:

  • Any level above .0 for drivers under 21
  • Exceeds .08 percent for drivers 21 years and older
  • Shows .04 percent for drivers that hold CDL and are operating a commercial vehicle when the officer pulls them over

You can be charged with a DUI even if the impairing substance isn’t alcohol. These substances can include controlled drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, prescription medication, and even some drugs you’ve purchased legally at the pharmacy.

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What to Expect When You’ve Been Pulled Over for a DUI

If this is your first experience being pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence, then you may not be aware of the series of questions the arresting officer will ask you. However, before we continue, you need to know your rights when interacting with the police. While you have the right to remain silent, you are compelled to comply with lawful orders.

If questioned, you must provide them with your real name and current address, as well as provide your identification. If you are asked to exit the vehicle, you must comply as this is considered a lawful order, failing to do so may end in a forcible arrest.

However, you are under no obligation to incriminate yourself. Police officers will ask you several questions, while they may innocently pose them, such as “How many drinks have you had tonight? I just want to make sure you are safe to drive home.” These questions are techniques for the officer to gather evidence against you.

You are also under no obligation to perform the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTS). These are the test where an officer attempts to prove your inability to drive with various dexterity tests. They may make you walk a straight line, stand on one foot, or may try and register your level of intoxication through an eye-test. While the will ask for you to perform these tests, they can’t demand them.

Conversely, if they demand that you take a breath test, you must take it otherwise you will be punished with having your driver’s license revoked for one year. If you’ve refused the breath test to determine your BAC level, you can attempt to fight the one-year revocation at a DMV hearing that you will need to apply for soon after the arrest.

Factors that can Affect Your Case for a First Offense

If this is your first offense, some mitigating factors might be in your benefit when handling your defense. If during the stop:

  • You were over the legal drinking age and you BAC did not exceed .09
  • You were driving safely outside of being under the influence
  • Your driving record has been clean for the past five years
  • You’ve voluntarily submitted yourself to an alcohol/drug treatment program
  • Your impairment was due to your prescription medication

As each DUI case is unique, these factors plus and aggravating factors will be taken into account to determine the punishment.

Bottom Line

If you’ve found yourself arrested and charged with DUI in North Carolina, you want to make sure that you protect yourself to the best of your ability, and that means having an experienced attorney on your side. Even a first-time DUI conviction can have far-reaching ramifications, and the only way to make sure you get the best outcome is by having an Asheville DUI defense lawyer investigate your case. Call Asheville DUI defense lawyer, today at 828-759-5556 or fill out our confidential contact form to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges.