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Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: Junk Science in NC Courts

If you’re pulled over and investigated for a DWI in Raleigh or anywhere else in Wake County, you’ll likely be asked to perform what’s called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, which is one of three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) promoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make it easier for cops and prosecutors to...

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North Carolina DWI Checkpoints in the news

One method of securing DWI and other drunk driving arrests used by Raleigh and Wake County police is to set up DWI checkpoints, where the breathalyzer machine typically found only at the police station downtown is brought into the field in the so-called “BATmobile.”  Last month, on July 13, 2012, a checkpoint was set up in Wake County that...

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Zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving (“Underage DWI”)

Many people in North Carolina are entirely unaware of the State’s harsh law prohibiting the operation of a vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol by individuals under 21.  Under NCGS 20-138.3(a), “Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs,” in the same section of the code as NC’s DWI statute, the law is...

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Odor of alcohol on a driver’s breath, by itself, not enough to support a DWI conviction

While North Carolina’s DWI statute is quite harsh for drivers in Raleigh and statewide, there is a limit to the State’s ability to prosecute individuals on weak evidence of impairment by alcohol.  Specifically, an officer smelling alcohol on a driver’s breath, by itself, is not enough to support a finding of impairment. In a civil case, Atkins v. Moye,...

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Aiding and Abetting a DWI

One of the most shocking aspects of the North Carolina’s already harsh DWI statute is the provision on aiding and abetting.  In North Carolina, you don’t have to be driving a vehicle to be convicted of driving while impaired.  If you simply ride in a vehicle with an impaired driver, “all who participate […] are guilty as principals.”  State...

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For a DWI, what does it mean to be “impaired”?

Some states make it a crime to drive a vehicle “under the influence” of an intoxicant (as in a DUI), and in North Carolina it is a crime to drive “while impaired” (DWI). In NC, the Court of Appeals has directly addressed the question of what it means to be guilty of the impairment requirement of the DWI statute...

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DWI Substance Abuse Assessments and Treatment in NC

If you are convicted of a DWI (driving while impaired) in North Carolina, you will be required to obtain a substance abuse assessment from a local service provider, and complete the recommended treatment or education, in order to get your driver’s license reinstated.  In fact, if you want to get a limited driving privilege during the initial suspension of...

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When a Traffic Stop Leads to a DWI Investigation: Know Your Rights, Part 4

I discussed previously the rights a North Carolina driver has to refuse to 1) answer any questions during a DWI (driving while impaired) stop/investigation, 2) refuse to participate in any field sobriety tests, and 3) refuse to blow into the portable, handheld breathalyzer unit that officers often carry in their squad cars (in NC, this is the Alco-Sensor device). All...

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When a Traffic Stop Leads to a DWI Investigation: Know Your Rights, Part 3

Continued from previous post: Rule #3: You do not have to blow into a portable/handheld breathalyzer unit, and you almost certainly should not. Many people mistakenly believe that if an officer asks an individual suspected of driving while impaired, or driving after drinking alcohol, that the driver is required to blow into the portable breathalyzer on the scene.  In...

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When a Traffic Stop Leads to a DWI Investigation: Know Your Rights, Part 2

Continuing from the previous post on your rights during a DWI stop and investigation, in which you may be suspected of driving while impaired or other alcohol-related driving offenses. Rule #2: You do not have to participate in any field sobriety tests, and you almost certainly should not. Many people mistakenly believe that they have no choice but to...

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