Articles Posted in DUI/DWI

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Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Are breath test results always accurate?”

You thought it was July 4th weekend? You’re right, but it’s also “No Refusal Weekend” in Eugene, Oregon. Local and state police in Eugene plan to have prosecutors and judges on standby this weekend to obtain “blood draw warrants” against drivers who refuse to submit to alcohol content testing.

Gas and alcohol Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina DUI AttorneyThis will prevent “people from avoiding full accountability,” police said. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in a 2013 case that police must obtain a warrant before drawing a person’s blood, except in cases of emergency. That case was called Missouri v. McNeely.

The program in Eugene is unique because, evidently, prosecutors and magistrates will be available to issue warrants quickly. The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union gave its blessing to the arrangement; a representative said more warrants in blood-draw cases was a “good thing.”

This could be the dawn of the age of warrants en masse, as litigation in the wake of the McNeely decision may show.  Many people consent to blood draws. Lawyers are now arguing that McNeely requires courts to consider whether, in the totality of the circumstances, consensual blood draws done without a warrant are constitutional.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”

 

Law enforcement officials across the State of North Carolina have agreed to join forces yet again to combat drunk driving. This year marks the fourth anniversary of State Highway Patrol officers working in conjunction with the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement division to bust impaired drivers.

 

empty bottle Charlotte DUI Attorney North Carolina DWI LawyerThe law enforcement groups will work together to crack down on drivers as well as boaters, a campaign dubbed “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive.” The groups say that alcohol is responsible for hundreds of accidents, both on land and on water, and that the joint collaboration between the agencies can help lead to greater success.

 

In North Carolina, the law says that it is illegal for a driver in a motor vehicle to drink while operating the vehicle. Additionally, anyone found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08 percent faces drunk driving charges. The law differs slightly with regard to boaters, given that boaters are allowed to consume alcohol while operating their boats. However, boaters are held to a similar standard of intoxication and can be charged with Boating while intoxicated, or BWI if found to have a BAC greater than 0.08 percent.

 

The agencies say they will work together between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a traditionally busy time for drunk driving arrests. Checkpoints will be put in place across the state, both on land and on water, to ensure that drivers out for a good time are not legally impaired.

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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?”

 

Though it may sound crazy, it is actually possible for people to be arrested and charged with drunk driving in North Carolina without being found driving a vehicle. How could that happen? Keep reading to find out more about what North Carolina law says about drunk driving.

 

Hands on steering wheel Charlotte DWI Attorney North Carolina DUI LawyerWhat does the law require?

 

The law in North Carolina clearly says that for a person to be convicted of impaired driving, he or she must be found to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance. Though this may seem clear cut, the statutes further specify this broad statement and explain that a person can be found to have “operated” a car if he or she is in actual physical control of that vehicle.

 

Actual physical control

 

Actual physical control has been defined by many courts as when a driver has the keys to the vehicle either in the ignition or near the ignition and has the ability to operate the car on short notice. Though the person may not actually be driving, it would not take much effort to put the car into motion, thus endangering others.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What should I do if I have been pulled over and I have been drinking?”

 

A man from Gaston County, NC was arrested this week and now stands accused of drunk driving in an accident that took place earlier this year and left a man dead. Anthony Lamar Ogden, 59, was arrested and charged with felony DUI in which death results. He’s now being held without bond in a York County Detention Center.

 

Broken drinking glass Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyAccording to authorities, Ogden was one of three drivers involved in a three-vehicle pileup, which happened back in January. The crash occurred on U.S. 21 just about a mile south of Fort Mill. The crash began a little before 7 p.m. when cars driven by Sherrell Wright and Alva Terrell had come to a stop on U.S. 21. Shortly thereafter, Ogden crashed into the back of Terrell’s Chevrolet, which was then pushed into the back of Wright’s Nissan.

 

Police say that while all three drivers were thankfully wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, the severity of the accident was so great that serious harm resulted nonetheless. All three drivers were taken to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries, though Terrell, who absorbed the brunt of the impact of the crash, suffered the most serious injuries. Terrell died three days after the accident at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

 

According to family members, Terrell was on his way home from a shift at Walmart where he worked as a cashier. The 74-year-old man was taking blood thinners, which contributed to his death because emergency medical responders and doctors struggled to control his bleeding.

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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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