Asheville DWI Attorney

DWI DUI Phases from Stop to Sentencing

A good DWI lawyer should put your case under the magnifying glass.

A good DWI lawyer should put your case under the magnifying glass.

An effective and organized DWI DUI Defense Lawyer can analyze the nature of an impaired driving stop to determine if any triable issues exist. The point of your  attorney checking these issues is because If any of these areas are not followed to procedure,  a successful trial on those issues could lead to dismissal of the charges altogether. As your advocate, I'm committed to putting your case under the magnifying glass to be sure you get the best result possible. Call an Asheville DWI Lawyer today to analyze your case:

 

CALL TODAY: 828-575-8417

DWI Stop and Sentencing, Broken Down into 5 distinct phases:

 

 

 

Phase I: DWI - DUI Vehicle in Motion

Weaving or swerving is one of the most common things police observe before stopping a vehicle. 

Weaving or swerving is one of the most common things police observe before stopping a vehicle. 

  • This is the first phase of the DWI stop where law enforcement is looking for cues that would indicate whether or not the driver is impaired.  Examples of these cues could be, weaving, slow driving, slow response to lights, failure to dim lights, etc.  A good DWI defense lawyer will be able to analyze this phase for potential absence of these cues. For example, swerving has to be of a certain nature in order to justify the stop.
  • Law enforcement can't just pull you for no reason. There must be some violation of the road or at least some substantial articulated set of facts that would lead the officer to believe criminal conduct is occurring or is about to occur. 


Phase II: DWI - DUI Personal Contact

Officers will be taking in every indication that you might be impaired at this point.

Officers will be taking in every indication that you might be impaired at this point.

  • In this second phase of the DWI stop the officer will be looking for typical cues. For example, empty containers, blood shot eyes, fumbling, slurred speech, abusive language, odor of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Officers may intentionally ask certain styles of questions to detect unusual levels of confusion.
  • The amount of time these stops take is important, as they must be reasonably brief. Many post stop cues may or may not be evident in each situation. This portion of the stop must be analyzed by your DWI defense lawyer to see if any effective defenses exist at this phase. 

Phase III: DWI - DUI Pre-Arrest

Field sobriety tests are requested to gather evidence that you are impaired. You don't have to consent to the field tests.

Field sobriety tests are requested to gather evidence that you are impaired. You don't have to consent to the field tests.

  • At this point, the officer will begin to perform certain physical sobriety tests, as well as a field breathalyzer to confirm alcohol present. Many behaviors are being monitored during this phase. Physical ability such as balance and characteristics of gait are observed. Also gaze testing for eye behavior is observed.
  • Officers must be qualified to administer these tests properly.
  • Also, an officer needs probable cause to make an arrest absent a warrant. 
  • Your DWI defense attorney should scrutinize this process thoroughly for any holes in the administration of these tests, as well as the strength of the results of the tests to justify an arrest. 

Phase IV: DWI - DUI Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)

  • At this point the administration of the INTOX 5000 or Blood Test must be considered. There are a number of rules and regulations that need to be followed in order to verify the legality of this process.
  • Many are surprised to find out that drivers with BAC levels at or below the legal limit of .08 are often times charged regardless. An effective DWI defense attorney will be able to review this process for the possibility of suppressing any results. 

Phase V: DWI - DUI Sentencing

A sentencing hearing is held immediately after a DWI conviction.

A sentencing hearing is held immediately after a DWI conviction.

  • This phase becomes important if all the other phases are not capable of being effectively challenged.
  • DWI - DUI is sentenced based on 6 levels ranging from 5 to 1 (plus an aggravated level 1, the worst level of punishment). 
  • Depending on previous DWI - DUI charges, and the weighing of a number of factors that either help or hurt, the convicted will end up with a sentencing level and the commensurate punishment.
  • A finding of one or more grossly aggravating factors may propel the level of punishment into the 1-2 range where fines can reach up to $10,000 and prison time measured in years. Even the less harsh level 3-5 can add up to several hundreds in fines and several days of community service and/or jail time. 
  • Mitigating factors (good things) help balance out bad factors and lower the sentencing level. Examples of such factors are, slight impairment solely from alcohol with BAC of .09 or lower, safe driving except for the impairment, submission to an assessment and treatment program if necessary, good driving record, and others. Fortunately, a lower standard of proof,  "preponderance of evidence" (basically means tip the scale to your favor) is all that is needed for you and your DWI defense Lawyer to establish the mitigating (helpful) factors.
  • Aggravating factors worsen the level of severity and punishment. For example: Blood alcohol at or above .16, reckless driving, driving while license revoked (DWLR) at the time of the incident, causing an accident, and several others. Your DWI defense attorney may be able to argue against  aggravating factors that are weak as the state must prove these factors beyond a reasonable doubt. 

 

 

The presence of any grossly aggravating factors will lead to definite jail sentences, even on the first offense.

The presence of any grossly aggravating factors will lead to definite jail sentences, even on the first offense.

  • Grossly aggravating factors that greatly worsen the level of punishment are, DWI within 7 years of the current offense, passengers under the age of 18, revoked for impaired driving at the time of the incident, or causing serious injury to another resulting from the incident. Again, your DWI defense Lawyer should be able to argue against any weak Grossly aggravating factors.
  • Representation at this point is important, as your DWI defense attorney will help to ensure that the aggravating factors are proven and the mitigating factors considered to lower the damage to as little as possible for sentencing purposes.

*Call  to talk with an attorney to see if any of these issues apply to your situation.


Asheville DUI DWI Defense Attorney-CALL TODAY: 828-575-8417



DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that no attorney can guarantee any outcome. Case outcomes are fact specific. Change a single fact, and you may alter the outcome completely. The information contained on this page is merely for informational purposes, and forms no attorney-client relationship. Please call and/or schedule an appointment for consultation to discuss your particular issues and goals and to determine how I can help. I am a licensed NC attorney, but nevertheless the law is ever changing and any representation contained in this site may no longer be current NC or US law.