Articles Posted in DUI/DWI

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

 

One drunk driver from Lincoln County, North Carolina is facing some serious criminal charges this week after police say he dragged an officer nearly 40 feet and later spit blood in the man’s face.

 

Dead End Sign Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina DUI AttorneyAccording to authorities, the encounter began at around 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday when 20-year-old Jake Nelson was spotted running a red light on Highway 16. An officer saw Nelson and tried pulling him over. However, rather than comply, Nelson chose to run, a decision that could now cost him dearly.

 

After speeding away from the officer, Nelson is said to have driven off down several smaller side roads, nearly losing control of his vehicle at one point. Finally, Nelson ran out of room to drive after making a wrong turn down a dead end street. The arresting officer approached Nelson’s car, but the young man initially refused to roll down the window. After a while, Nelson agreed to crack the window, at which point the officer says he clearly smelled alcohol.

 

Backup soon arrived to help the first officer arrest Nelson who still refused to get out of the vehicle. The first officer then stuck his arm through the cracked window to try and unlock the door when Nelson rolled the window up and put the car into drive. The vehicle then slowly rolled for more than 40 feet, dragging the officer the entire way.

 

Police say they were only able to subdue Nelson after the officer whose hand was caught in the door finally got ahold of his Taser and used it on the young man. In the subsequent tussle, police say nelson spit blood on the officer.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

 

In light of pop star Justin Bieber’s recent arrest for drunk driving in Miami, many have begun paying closer attention to local laws concerning underage drinking and driving. The reason is that some were surprised to hear that Bieber had been busted after police found him driving with a blood alcohol level well below the 0.08 percent that many assume is standard.

 

Bottles of Beer Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyIn Bieber’s case, Florida’s law says that a person under 21 can be arrested and charged with drunk driving if they are found to have a BAC of 0.02 percent or above. This might come as a shock to many people who automatically assume the 0.08 percent applies to all drivers across the board.

 

Young drivers in North Carolina should realize that a similar law exists in this state which can lead to young people being arrested with far lower levels of alcohol in their system than would be required for drivers over 21. North Carolina’s law is actually even stricter than the one in Florida, with legislators here adopting a zero tolerance approach. That means that any driver under 21 who is found to have any alcohol in his or her blood whatsoever, even something as small as 0.01 percent, could be cited for impaired driving.

 

The rules can be so strict for young drivers because the state’s law clearly explains that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol except for in several very narrow circumstances. These circumstances include religious reasons, medical requirements or educational purposes (chefs and others that might need to cook with wine).

 

Though drivers under 21 make up a relatively small share of the overall drivers in the state, only about 10 percent, the account for a disproportionately higher share of all DUI related deaths every year, 14 percent. Given this disparity, legislators have long felt that a strict approach was the best way to ensure everyone’s safety on the roads.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “How can an attorney help me with my DWI?”

 

Those busted for drunk driving in North Carolina understandably have a million questions following the arrest. Some common examples include how much will the arrest end up costing, is jail time possible and what impact will the arrest have on your future?

 

Handcuffed hands Charlotte Drunk Driving Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyAnother one of the most common questions involves a best case/worst case scenario. Drivers often feel better knowing what the range of possible outcomes is in their case. Though nothing is absolute and your particular circumstances will greatly impact the outcome, the following are some good examples of possible best case/worst case scenarios.

 

The first thing to note is that the law can be surprisingly severe even for first-time offenders. North Carolina’s drunk driving law says that drivers will face fines, possible short jail times or community service, court costs and a suspended license. However, there are a variety of other factors that can ratchet these punishments upward.

 

Specifically, the law accounts for what are known as “aggravating” and even “grossly aggravating” factors, which can increase the severity of punishments facing first-time offenders. Examples of such aggravating factor include arrests while transporting a minor child, having exceptionally high blood alcohol content or prior drunk driving offenses on your record.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “Is there more than one way for police to convict a DWI?”

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In a sad case out of Raleigh, one young man is behind bars after he hit and killed two others who were stopped on the side of I-40 last weekend. The accident occurred around 8 p.m. on I-40 in Raleigh and ended with 21-year-old Marshall Doran facing serious criminal charges.

 

Beer Can Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Drunk Driver AttorneyAccording to police, the deadly evening began when a tractor-trailer driven by Cardell Gayfield hit a patch of snow and began to lose control. His truck eventually spun out and ended up off the side of the road near U.S. 70. Two other passing motorists stopped their cars to see if they could help Gayfield and right as they did Gayfield says he noticed an oncoming vehicle moving towards them at around 60 miles per hour. The next thing Gayfield noticed was an interstate sign shaking as if it had been hit by a car and looked down to discover that both men had been hit.

 

Police say they don’t yet know where the two good Samaritans were standing when Doran’s 2001 Volvo struck them, but they are working with crash scene investigators to reconstruct what happened that night. They do know that after the deadly accident, Doran fled, leaving both men’s bodies on the side of the road.

 

Police say that they used cop cars and a helicopter to search the area for Doran’s Volvo and eventually found Doran hiding in the woods about 10 miles away from the accident scene. Doran eventually walked out of the woods, where police then arrested him. Authorities say that Doran was initially charged with second-degree murder, but that his charges have since been reduced to felony death by motor vehicle.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

 

Drinking and college often go hand in hand. Drinking and frat parties? Even more so. However, trouble can arise when the people doing the drinking at the frat parties are not of legal age to freely imbibe.

 

Red solo cup Charlotte DWI DUI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThis past weekend, dozens of students from UNC Charlotte learned the hard way that authorities take the issue of underage drinking quite seriously. That’s because officers with the university police force and the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement office responded to complaints about a wild party going on at the Chi Phi frat house on E. Mallard Creek Church Road.

 

The police got reports that the Saturday night bash had underage students consuming large amounts of alcohol, with some compounding their legal troubles by then driving home. News reports indicate that 75 people were cited at the party, many for underage drinking and others for DUI. Several other students were arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession and aiding and abetting possession of alcohol.

 

One of those arrested was the 19-year-old president of Chi Phi who now faces the embarrassing reality of tackling criminal charges after what was supposed to be a fun weekend party. University officials say this is not the first time Chi Phi has been disciplined for similar conduct and, as a result, it has now been placed on interim suspension. The group has been chastised for violating not only university policies and their own national rules, but also state law by allowing underage students to consume alcohol.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “Are breath test results always accurate?”

 

Several important recent criminal court decisions are poised to impact how law enforcement agencies across North Carolina handle drunk driving checkpoints in the future. Experts say that the cases are clarifying exactly what is required of police officers to operate a valid checkpoint.

 

Traffic Cone Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneySobriety checkpoints in North Carolina are becoming a far more common sight for drivers out in the evening or late at night. In addition to official checkpoints where officers stop all drivers passing through the area, some police departments are engaging in what are known as saturation patrols, which target areas popular for drinking with extra police officers. Both strategies are among those embraced by law enforcement agencies across the state and are aimed at cracking down on incidents of impaired driving.

 

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding a sobriety checkpoint out of Anson County. In that case, a driver was arrested and charged with a DWI after officers conducted a breath test. However, the Court of Appeals held that the evidence obtained during the sobriety checkpoint was inadmissible during trial because the law enforcement agency conducting the sobriety checkpoint never bothered to write down official guidelines for how the checkpoint would be conducted. The case amounted to a surprising victory for the defendant and a rebuke of the local sheriff’s office.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

 

Police from Catawba County, North Carolina arrested a man for drunk driving on a moped nearly two years ago. Aaron Barkley, 34, has since been sentenced as a habitual offender, meaning the drunken moped operator will now face serious jail time.

 

Moped Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThe District Attorney’s Office in Catawba says that Barkley was arrested back in May of 2012 after police say he scooted right through a driver’s license checkpoint. When police took off after him and pulled him over, the officers administered a Breathalyzer test and found that his BAC was 0.11 percent, well in excess of the state’s legal limit.

 

Because Barkley has been convicted of drunk driving three times in the past, he faced heightened punishment this time around. Just this past week a judge sentenced Barkley to 23 months behind bars.

 

Though it may come as a surprise, if Barkley had been driving in South Carolina at the time he would not have faced drunk driving charges. That’s because in South Carolina, mopeds are not listed as “motor vehicles” and thus cannot serve as the basis for a DUI charge. Instead, a drunken moped driver could only be cited for something like disorderly conduct.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

A 28-year-old from Iowa City, Iowa recently set records after being arrested for drunk driving. The record was not the number of times he’d been arrested, but was instead the amount of alcohol in his system.

 

Beer Bottle Tops Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyLevi Carter was arrested for driving drunk last Friday at around two in the morning. A passenger tipped off the police to Carter’s intoxication after the two drove off the road and crashed into a street sign. The woman called the cops saying that she’d been injured and needed the assistance of law enforcement.

 

When cops arrived, the woman told officers that when she at Carter’s home she found him pacing around his basement talking to people that were not there. Carter was unable to hold himself upright and smelled strongly of booze. When police approached Carter he claimed that he was not intoxicated, saying that he had only had two Bud Lights to drink all evening.

 

Despite his protestations, Carter was unable to perform a standard eye test or any other aspect of the routine field sobriety tests. Cops then got out a Breathalyzer machine and had Carter give a breath sample. The first reading registered a 0.467 BAC. The subsequent tests appear to have broken the machine, with the results only coming back as “HI.” The stunned police officers slapped Carter in handcuffs and took him to jail to sober up. Carter has unsurprisingly been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “Are breath test results always accurate?”

In an odd drunk driving case out of Charlotte, a judge in Mecklenburg County recently accepted a plea deal for a driver only several hours after another judge rejected the identical deal.

 

Beer Can Tops Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThe plea deal involved a sad case where a passenger was killed in the car driven by Bairon Sandoval. The accident took place last February and Sandoval was initially charged with felony death by vehicle, DWI and lacking a valid driver’s license. His criminal defense attorney was able to reach a deal with prosecutors who agreed to reduce the charge to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for Sandoval serving between 10 and 20 months behind bars.

 

Sandoval had admitted that he and several friends had spent the evening drinking in a bar prior to driving home with a friend, 20-year-old Tatiana Rivera. Rivera was killed and two other innocent victims were injured in the accident that occurred after Sandoval ran into a tree near the intersection of Tyvola and Old Pineville Roads. Police officers tested Sandoval’s blood and determined his BAC was 0.10 percent, slightly higher than the state’s 0.08 percent legal limit.

 

Given that the plea deal had been reached between the prosecutor and Sandoval’s attorney, all that remained was to have a judge sign off on the deal, something that is typically only seen as a formality. Such deals are commonplace and save both sides significant time and money, reducing the risks that are inherent in a criminal trial. Despite the deal already being in place, one judge initially disagreed with the plea arrangement, saying that he was not willing to sign off on such a light sentence given that Sandoval’s drunk driving had directly led to another person’s death.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What happens if I am convicted of a DUI or DWI in North Carolina?”

Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department say that they have issued more than four-dozen charges to drivers in connection with an overnight checkpoint Saturday and early Sunday morning.

Police Car lights Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney.jpgPolice with CMPD say they were assisted by officers at UNCC. The checkpoint took place on Runnymede Lane near Michael Baker Place, close to Myers Park High School. According to a spokesperson, the checkpoint resulted in a total of 48 charges, 21 of which were for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Three of the charges concerned driving with a revoked license, eight were for driving without a license, two were for open container and 14 were for more minor traffic violations such as out of date tags.

As we near the holiday season, drivers in North Carolina should understand that there is usually an increase in the number of people arrested for driving under the influence. Many of these arrests come police checkpoints just like the one in this case where police stop and interrogate drivers who have not actually done anything wrong.

The purpose of police checkpoints like this one is designed to deter drunk driving rather than to specifically arrest drunk drivers. This means that officers do not have to abide by the requirements of the Fourth Amendment which protects individuals from illegal searches and seizures. It also means that officers are legally allowed to stop drivers who have done nothing wrong. Courts have said that because the length of the stop is so brief, the inconvenience to the driver is outweighed by public safety need.

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