If you're a Mecklenburg County resident with a boat, we understand that almost primal urge to get out on the area waterways this time of year and just utterly relax.
You are stopped by an officer at a DWI checkpoint or after a minor traffic offense. The officer asked you if you have been drinking, where you are coming from, where you are going. While the DWI officer may have some interest in your activities, an additional purpose in asking these questions is to determine if your speech is slurred.
A Kentucky man - barechested, of course - was arrested for DWI on a horse. He goes by the alias "Mike Bicycle" and was alleged to have said "I didn't do shit, I was just riding my horse". Booking photos show a well tattooed but otherwise flaccid torso.
If you are a commercial driver in North Carolina, your commercial driver's license (CDL) is your livelihood. Any serious traffic violation, including a DWI, can put your license and your job in jeopardy. To protect yourself while driving in or through North Carolina, it is important to understand the laws you are required to adhere to.
Criminal charges related to driving under the influence most often relate to individuals who are believed to be under the influence of alcohol. However, DUI charges may also result in cases where a driver is believed to be under the influence of drugs. In North Carolina, a driver who is found to be under the influence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or "other impairing substances," will face criminal charges related to driving under the influence of drugs or DUID.
Regardless of the circumstances, being pulled over by a police officer is a nerve-wracking experience. When an individual is subsequently asked to exit his or her vehicle and submit to field sobriety tests and a breath test or blood test, the situation quickly escalates. If faced with this scenario, it's important to pay close attention to what a police officer says and does and also to understand one's legal rights.
We've previously discussed in blog posts how North Carolina has some of the toughest drunk driving laws of any state. However, if two bills that were recently introduced by North Carolina House Democrat Rep. Darren Jackson become law, the penalties for some individuals convicted of DWI/DUI will be even more punitive.
Any driver who is pulled over by a police officer and subsequently asked to exit his or her vehicle and complete a series of field sobriety tests is, with good reason, likely to be terrified. This is especially true in cases involving young and inexperienced drivers.
As we discussed in our last blog, a police officer who pulls a driver over must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has committed a crime. In cases where this requirement isn't met, a defense attorney will fight to get any criminal charges that may follow as a result of the traffic stop dismissed. However, according to a recent ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, evidence collected in an unconstitutional traffic stop may still be used as justification to revoke an individual's driver's license in an Administrative Hearing at NCDMV.
We've discussed in previous posts some of the penalties individuals who are convicted of a DWI in North Carolina may face. There's no doubt that the financial and personal costs associated with a drunk driving conviction are significant and individuals who are facing criminal charges would be wise to contact a defense attorney and explore their options.