I was on Facebook the other day and a friend posted this photo that made me laugh: “Quotes found on the internet are not always accurate – Abraham Lincoln.”
It also brought to mind a common problem I face when I’m first consulting with someone who has recently been charged with a DWI. Since there are DWI laws – or their equivalents – in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (as well as a federal law that incorporates local DWI laws) – and because there are so many different impaired driving rules, there is a cottage industry of information on the Internet about driving while impaired offenses.
That’s because, truthfully, DWI law is one of the most lucrative in criminal law. Many people charged with DWIs can afford to hire lawyers, and do so. In addition, there are a lot of attorneys out there who, starving for business, think they can practice competent DWI law by just putting up a website and saying they are an effective DWI lawyer.
The truth of the matter is that there are probably only about two dozen lawyers in Raleigh you should ever consider hiring for a DWI offense. While many people can quote DWI statutes, and very few actually handle a significant enough volume of DWIs in Wake County to the extent that the understand the law and how to defend it at trial.
A larger number of lawyers are happy to charge a rock bottom price and plead your DWI out.
So what do you need to know about a Wake County DWI? It’s not going to be reduced. I don’t care if you’re the king or queen of England, your DWI will be prosecuted as a DWI. While it may be true that your friend in Florida or your uncle in New York got a DWI reduced to a careless and reckless, or it may be true that a DWI you had 25 years ago was reduced or dismissed, the climate today is entirely opposite in Wake County.
Heads would roll at the Wake County District Attorney’s Office if ADAs suddenly started dismissing DWIs or reducing them en masse to careless and reckless convictions.
Second, North Carolina has some of the worst procedural rules from a Defendant’s perspective in DWIs. The State has to jump through very few hoops to have the results of your Intox EC/IR II breathalyzer test into evidence. And once that information is before the court, the legislature has said that it can be used to convicted if the results were within a relevant time of the driving such that the drinking occurred before or during the driving.
This relevant time doctrine makes defeating the number hard, though not impossible.
Finally, not all DWI lawyers are the same. Some try cases. Some do not. Choosing a lawyer who tried DWI cases means you have a lawyer who will investigate the entire case to find anything in it that can be used to successfully defend you.