If you’ve been arrested and cited for driving under the influence (DUI) in Asheville it’s important to remember that you have the right to fight the charge. There are options available to everyone when facing the court system when contesting a DUI in North Carolina, and while it may seem an uphill battle, these cases can be fought and won.
Your first thought towards disputing a DUI may be to you hope your previous clean driving record will have your case either reduced if not outright dismissed. However, this is unlikely, as North Carolina law, N.C.G.S. § 20-138.4(a), requires the district attorney to explain verbally and in writing the reason for a reduction or dismissal of a DUI case.
How to Build Your Case
You may have heard the Miranda Rights on TV, however, you may not have taken the time to understand what it says. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used AGAINST you in a court of law.”
Some people think they have a silver tongue and can talk their way out of a DUI, or maybe they legitimately think they can explain that the arrest is just a misunderstanding. However, the Miranda Rights strictly say that your words will be used against you, it never says anything about helping you in a court of law.
Don’t Refuse the Breath Test
You may be worried about your case because when you receive a DUI citation, it normally comes with some if not all of the following evidence:
- Breath test
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Field sobriety test
While you may feel disheartened, keep in mind that the burden of proof falls upon the prosecution and if certain protocols haven’t been followed correctly, even if your test screen over the legal limit, the evidence may be dismissed if it wasn’t handled properly.
Because the police must follow strict guidelines when handling evidence, such as maintaining proper clerical work showing the chain of ownership, this is where you may find the spot to begin building your case. By exploiting the demands of proper procedures placed on law enforcement, you can potentially save your license as well as save yourself from potential jail time.
It can be extremely difficult in maintaining proper records and evidence gathering for yourself, so seeking a competent DUI attorney in Asheville is your best bet on building a legal defense. An attorney will be able to review your case to determine its strengths and weaknesses after reviewing the police record concerning your arrest. Once they’ve been able to go over the evidence, they can start planning a strategy to fight your DUI charge.
It’s important to have your case reviewed by an experienced lawyer as no two DUI cases are ever the same. By combing over the evidence collected against you, your attorney may be able to spot the errors made by the officer. It’s not uncommon for police officers to incorrectly administer the test, or conduct the test with equipment that hasn’t been calibrated to North Carolina sobriety testing standards.
Because your case will mostly depend on the arresting officer’s failure to maintain the standards when taking and handling evidence, you don’t want to refuse to take any of the tests.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer, you are opening yourself up to more problems than just a DUI. By refusing the test, you will have your license automatically suspended for one year, as you’ve given implied consent to be subject to these tests when you obtained your North Carolina driver’s license. This suspension will be in effect even if you aren’t convicted of the original DUI charge.
So when you’re requested to perform a breath test, don’t refuse.
However, if you have already chosen to refuse a breathalyzer test, you aren’t completely out of options, but you will have to attend a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. You need to promptly schedule the hearing, as there is a window to apply, and if you miss it, then the suspension goes into effect.
Don’t Voluntarily Perform Field Test
Keep in mind that a breath test isn’t the same as a field sobriety test. You are not compelled to perform a field sobriety test at the behest of the officer. While the officer may suggest the test as a way to clear you of driving while impaired, the reality is that it’s an attempt to gather more evidence against you.
The officer will attempt to gather as much evidence as possible through “eye test”, “walk the line test”, and “the alphabet test”. If you comply with taking these tests voluntarily, you are helping the district attorney build their case by providing them with Probable Cause to Arrest.
Just because you’ve been charged with a DUI, doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be convicted. By being diligent and seeking legal counsel, you may still have a fighting chance to keep a DUI off of your record.