We recently had a driver ask on our forum if they really needed a lawyer for their first DUI arrest in North Carolina. This blog will address the considerations that should be made after a DUI arrest and what you will need to do if you decide not to hire a DUI lawyer.
First steps after DUI
- Do I face an Administrative License Suspension?
The very first consideration after a North Carolina DUI is whether or not your license was suspended through an administrative license suspension. Many drivers do not realize that their license may be suspended in a civil proceeding by the North Carolina Department of Transportation of Motor Vehicles if they either refused to take the chemical test or if they took the chemical test and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit of 0.08%.
If you either failed the test or refused the test your license will be suspended, regardless of whether or not you are convicted of DUI in North Carolina. North Carolina drivers who have failed a chemical test during DUI stop may have their license suspended for 60 days. Drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test will have their license suspended for one year. You are allowed to request a hearing to challenge the suspension.
- Evaluate the DUI Penalties you will face if convicted of DUI
The next step is to determine how severe the DUI penalties may be if you are convicted of DUI. You may be tempted to just plead guilty, but states have implemented very severe penalties and fines for DUI. Make sure you understand what you could face.
A North Carolina DUI arrest could result in a license suspension of one year, a fine of $2,000, a minimum jail time of 24 hours up to 24 months, and 24 hours of community service.
There may also be additional fees by the Department of Motor Vehicles to reinstate your license and you may be required to purchase SR22 insurance which is another monthly cost.
DUI convictions can also make it difficult to find new employment or may jeopardize your employment.
- Consider whether you have the time to understand the criminal proceedings
After your DUI arrest if the state decides they have enough evidence to charge you with DUI (including a blood alcohol content test, field sobriety test, incriminating statements from you, evidence of physical impairment, statements from other witnesses and observations from the arresting officer) they will schedule your arraignment.
The DUI arraignment will be your first appearance in court, and the court will perform the formal reading of charges against you. At the arraignment you can plead not guilty, guilty or no contest. If you plead not guilty the DUI court will set a court date for the trial. If you plead guilty the court will impose your sentence.
Hiring a DUI lawyer in North Carolina
Obviously, you can fight the DUI charges on your own, and this may be the route you choose, but if you are a multiple DUI offender, if you have aggravating factors for your DUI arrest or you have a job that could be negatively impacted by a DUI conviction, you need to talk to a North Carolina DUI lawyer.
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