You’ve Been Arrested for DWI in Raleigh – What To Do Right Now?

Getting Your License Back

The first and most immediate concern for our clients after a DWI arrest is how can I drive? The police took my license and said I cannot drive for thirty (30) days. How am I supposed to get to work? Or pick up my children? What are my options here? Not to worry. This is our first priority as well. Under North Carolina law, you can get back on the road after ten days with a limited driving privilege. We will explain the process.

We can petition for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) after ten (10) days from when you were arrested. This process requires two items from our client. They have to have a substance abuse assessment (just the assessment, not the treatment) which costs $100 to the facility and takes around an hour.  There are dozens of places where you can go for the assessment and we’ll give you a list of choices.  Next, you will need to have your insurance company send confirmation of existing car insurance (Form DL-123) to us. We will then prepare the necessary paperwork and present it to a District Court judge for approval. We then file the executed LDP along with your $100 fee to the State of North Carolina. These filed documents then become your “license” for the next twenty (20) days. It is restricted to driving during confined time periods and is used to and from work. There are other exceptions being considered to include going to church and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After thirty (30) days from arrest, you will then have to pay another $100 fee to the State of North Carolina to restore your license (NC resident) or driving privileges (out of state resident) in full. After this process is completed, your license is back to the way it was before your DWI arrest. We explain more details about LDP below.

Direct Access to Your Raleigh DWI Lawyer

DUI laws are complex, and the stakes are very high. We focus our criminal practice on DWI cases. We respectfully suggest that you schedule a personal meeting with different attorneys before making a final decision. The decision of who to defend you is critical. We also appreciate the anxiety and stress you are feeling. That’s why we believe it is important to be able to actually speak with your attorney. That is why every client in our practice can contact us any time and has our direct email address ( for Wiley Nickel and for Attorney Mary Elizabeth Robertson). In this age of smart phones and email, there is really no excuse for lawyers to not be available to their clients. In most cases, a simple answer or update by email is all that is needed for you to sleep better. For other situations, a short phone conversation, even if later that evening, may be necessary to calm a client’s concerns. We want you to have a great user experience with our firm. This is the reason we pledge to make ourselves personally available to our clients. We return all calls the same day. If we have been in court all day, we may have to return your call after regular business hours. But we will call you back. We know a few minutes can make a big difference. You deserve and should expect this courtesy from your attorney.

Our Credentials

Wake County DWI lawyer Wiley Nickel is a practicing trial attorney in Wake County with over 10 years litigation experience in both criminal and civil courts. A former prosecutor, he is licensed in North Carolina as well as California. With his office located in Cary, Mr. Nickel focuses his criminal practice on Driving While Impaired (DWI) cases. We know how stressful this ordeal is to you and will do everything we can to ease your burden. We are going to be engaged in every step of the process, and Mr. Nickel will be there to guide you from start to finish.

Raleigh DWI Attorney

Raleigh DWI attorney Mary Elizabeth Robertson works with Mr. Nickel in DUI defense and resolves DMV licensing issues for our clients. She is a graduate of East Carolina University and Campbell University School of Law. Ms. Robertson devotes much of her practice to DWI and has completed training in DWI Investigation and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.

The Arrest and DWI Investigation Process

If you’re reading this material, we presume you or someone you care about has had a long night. On the way home from dinner or an evening out, you were stopped by police or came upon a DWI checkpoint. You may have had a few drinks but felt fine to drive. Of course, you would never have driven if you thought for a moment you were unsafe. You are a responsible person who does not take chances. Nevertheless, life circumstances can change pretty quickly, and you now find yourself facing a DWI arrest. You still cannot believe this is actually happening. There are many emotions and fears coming into play. Your mind may be racing. Try not to worry. Defending a DWI is a process and it will take time to work through the various stages. That’s where our firm can help. We can answer your initial questions and explain what to expect.

You probably have not had much sleep after having spent the night in jail. You are anxious about being able to drive and what may even happen with your job. You wonder how your spouse is going to react. In short, right now, you are worried about everything. Is a DWI a felony or a misdemeanor? Will a conviction result in a permanent criminal record? What is this going to cost? What are the court costs and fines? What is this arrest going to do to my automobile insurance rates? How much does an experienced DWI lawyer charge? These are all good questions, and we can help get you answers to all of them. And more.

DWI Investigation Process

Regardless of the reason you were initially stopped by police, everything changes once the officer detects any alcohol on your breath. At that point, the focus shifts to a DWI investigation and a DWI arrest. First, you will be asked a series of questions while gathering requested documents such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance cards. These are “divided attention” tasks. Next, you will be asked to step out of your car and perform “Field Sobriety Tests” on the side of the road. The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn (WAT), and One Leg Stand (OLS).

These sanctioned tests, even if properly administered, are difficult to successfully perform under the best of conditions and without the anxiety of being investigated by police. Even though you may feel like you did well, almost everyone “fails” and gets arrested. It’s especially easy to fail a test when the person grading the test wants you to fail. You have something of a choice on whether to attempt to comply, but the outcome is usually the same regardless of your good intentions. If you submit to testing, you will most probably fail and be arrested. If you decline testing, you absolutely will be arrested. You get the idea here. Either way, once the investigation starts, you can plan on going to jail.

What To Do When Released From Jail

The morning after you get out, the first thing you need to do is to consult with an experienced Raleigh DWI attorney. There are a lot of lawyers who aggressively market for DWI cases. Over the next few days, you’re going to receive a significant amount of unsolicited mail from lawyers trying to convince you to hire them. Friends and co-workers will typically want to help and will make suggestions. Almost everyone seems to “know a good lawyer” and how a DWI arrest is supposed to go. We respectfully suggest you do your own research before deciding.

The lawyer you ultimately retain can make a real difference in the outcome of your case.  Check out their experience and credentials. You may even want to meet and interview several attorneys. Then, after you have completed a thorough review, you are in a position to make your best choice of who will handle your case. Go with the lawyer who gives you the most confidence and makes you the most comfortable.

Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)

The first thing almost every client wants to know is “when can I drive again?” After a DWI arrest, they are told before being released that their driving privileges are suspended for the next thirty (30) days. During the first ten (10) days, you cannot legally drive at all.  In some cases, it is possible to have the license returned even sooner than 10 days.  Give us a call to discuss attempting to get your license back sooner.  In other cases, we can help you request driving privileges after the 10th day. We will assist you during that period in gathering all necessary information and then prepare documents for a Limited Driving Privilege. On the eleventh (11th) day after your arrest, we will appear in front of a District Court judge and request that they sign and approve your privilege. We then file it with the court, pay your $100 fee, and get you back on the road. After thirty (30) days from your arrest date, you are able to get your original license returned after payment of another $100 fee to the State. We explain this procedure in great detail in other sections of this website. And, of course, you can call us directly, and we will explain in detail exactly what needs to be done to get you back on the road.

Raleigh - Wake County DWI Court Process

Your first court date and time is shown on the arrest documents given to you when released. All Wake County DWI cases start in one of four courtrooms at the Wake County Courthouse. On that first date, we will examine all documents in your file and request a second court date. We will file several standard Motions and request any video evidence that may be available in your case.

At those scheduled dates, you will have to be present. There will likely be several more court dates while we continue to collect all of the State’s evidence, including video. We will also personally speak with the arresting officer to learn what was recorded about the circumstances of your arrest. Once we have all the evidence and have carefully reviewed it, we will then be in a position to go over your options so that you can decide what is best for you. We will answer all of your questions, review the pros and cons of your case, and make recommendations. Then, you will decide how you want to proceed. We never pressure our clients on any course of action. Rather, we advise and suggest options. It is always your case and your decision. We always remember that we work for you.

Is Your DWI Case Worth Fighting?

Absolutely. You would expect a DWI lawyer to give such advice. After all, that’s how we make our living. But let us explain why it is worth the investment to aggressively fight a DUI charge. Don’t think that this process will be easy. North Carolina DWI laws are heavily stacked in favor of the State. No shock here. Legislators working for the State naturally err in their favor. Wake County is especially focused on prosecuting DWI cases and they rarely make deals onthese cases so there is little downside to a trial.  However, you have certain critical rights in any criminal offense, and a DUI is a criminal charge. And, even after 10 years practicing law, I still remain in awe of the power and wisdom of a jury trial. Juries are made up of people who appreciate and understand what you are facing. The police have all of the advantages and resources. That is why the burden of proof is solely on the State of North Carolina, and they must prove you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” as to all elements of the DUI crime. While your first stage of a DWI is handled in District Court before a judge, you have the absolute right to appeal to Superior Court where you get a trial by jury. We explain the process in greater detail below.

A DWI arrest is a misdemeanor, not a felony. But, if you are convicted or plead guilty, a DWI results in a permanent criminal record that can never be expunged even years later. As with all criminal charges, a DWI should be thoroughly investigated and aggressively defended. The burden of proof is on the State of North Carolina, and the prosecution must prove all elements “beyond a reasonable doubt.” North Carolina has some of the strictest DWI laws in the country, but subject to both legal and factual defenses. You are beginning what can be a very stressful time in your life. This is why hiring an experienced DWI attorney is critical. We know and understand what is involved and how this process works. We can explain what to expect and answer the questions that are waking you up at night. Then, we can collect all of the State’s evidence and then sit down and review a strategy for your case. If you decide to fight the charges, we will get ready for trial. If you decide to plea, we will prepare available mitigating factors with the goal of minimizing your ultimate punishment level and sentence. The choice of how to proceed in your case is always yours. You are the client. We always remember that we work for you.

The burden of proof is on State of North Carolina. You have to prove nothing.

Being charged is NOT the same as being found guilty. Because a DWI is a criminal matter, you are innocent until proven guilty. The State must prove each element of the DWI charge and must present evidence that convicts “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a significant standard for the police to meet in order to prove their case against you. If you hire us, we will conduct a thorough “top to bottom” review of your case and all of the State’s evidence.

Did the Police have Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over?

We begin with “reasonable suspicion” and the DWI investigation protocol under NHTSA guidelines. We then proceed to determine if there was sufficient “probable cause” to arrest and if the police followed all mandates with regards to implied consent rights and administration of breath or blood testing. After we have completed our review, we will discuss your options and give you our recommendations. Then, after we answer your questions and address your concerns, you decide how you want to go forward with your case. Plea or trial is always your decision after our counsel.

North Carolina DWI Expungement Information

A new law was just passed that became effective on December 1, 2015 that eliminates the possibility of an expungement for a DWI conviction.  So if you are convicted of a DWI the record will stay with you forever.  That makes it even more important to fight the DWI and try to get it dismissed.  A conviction can't be expunged now but a not-guilty verdict or a dismissal can be expunged.  We will explain the rules during your free initial consultation.

                                                              DWI Lawyer Wiley Nickel

                                                              DWI Lawyer Wiley Nickel

The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC – 919-585-1486

Thank you for visiting our firm’s website. Instead of the usual endless sales pitches on most DWI websites, we have put a lot of real information about what you are facing and what you can expect. We hope the content here helps answer some of your most pressing initial questions. After you have had an opportunity to read this material, the next step is to call us for a thorough, comprehensive review your particular case. Every case is unique, and individual facts can make a real difference in outcome. We will give you a candid assessment and explain your “worst case scenario.”

What to Do Right Now? Call our firm for initial answers and guidance.

Unlike some firms, we do not charge an initial consultation fee. After all, we are the ones interviewing to become your lawyer. The legal advice and guidance we provide will help you sleep better tonight even if you retain another firm. We tell every potential client that their choice on which DUI attorney to represent them should be made very carefully after a thorough review of several DWI lawyers here in Raleigh. Of course, we are honored to be considered and pledge to do our best if you place your trust in our firm. For many people a DWI arrest is one of the worst moments in their life and we’re honored that you are willing to let us into your life and help you through this tough time.  Call us now for an appointment at 919-585-1486 or contact us online and let’s get started. We look forward to speaking with you.


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.