How can I avoid a DWI arrest?

I’ve written elsewhere about the top 5 ways to beat a DWI charge and about how North Carolina DWI laws have gotten harsher and harsher over time.

Let me reiterate a few key points. First, while it is not illegal to drink and drive – so long as you are not impaired, if there is probable cause to believe you were impaired – through your driving, or the results of a PBT or Intox EC/IR II machine, you will be arrested and charged.

And because, like many counties, Wake County has a no-drop policy with respect to DWIs, even if you are not guilty of the charge, you will have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process to be found not guilty.

Therefore, if you think you’ve had too much to drink, err on the side of caution and do not drive. Take a cab, or have a friend drive. If both of you may be too impaired, and one of you drives, both of you may be charged. The driver will be charged with a DWI, and the passenger may be charged with Aiding and Abetting a DWI.

Next, make sure you don’t have any minors in your car if driving after consuming alcohol. A minor under the DWI statute is anyone who is under the age of 18. In addition, you should not have anyone in your car who is physically or mentally disabled. 2011 amendments to North Carolina’s Driving While Impaired Laws impose additional punishments on people who drive with passengers in the car who are under 18.

Finally, don’t say anything. As I said in this video I posted two years ago, don’t talk to police. Don’t be rude. Don’t be obnoxious. Be polite. Be cooperative in terms of putting your hands behind your back and following basic commands. But don’t talk to police without a lawyer present.

Don’t perform field Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Don’t blow into the handheld device they offer to you on the side of the road.

You do need to get out of the car if the officer asks. When you do, do so carefully so you don’t trip or stumble. But you do not need to follow his finger, or walk a line, or stand on one foot, or count backwards. These tests are designed to generate clues that can later be used against you.

You may wish to blow into the Intox EC/IR II machine, but that’s your choice and not something I can give you a definitive answer on. That’s because under North Carolina law, if you refuse to blow, your license will probably be suspended for one year, and the officer can walk to the Magistrate down the hall and get a search warrant to draw your blood without your consent.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.