When it comes to DWIs, Wake County has some of the strictest policies in the state, and the holiday season is the time when we see the most arrests. So, what should you do if you’re stopped for a DWI? Based on our experience in defending Wake County DWI charges, we’ve comprised this list of tips:
Tip #1 – Don’t drink & drive!
While this is the most obvious of all the tips, it’s by far the most important. A large number of our DWI clients consumed just 2 or 3 drinks and truly believed they were sober enough to drive. Regardless of how much you’ve had to drink, the only definitive way to avoid a DWI charge is to not drive at all. Take our advice and call a taxi.
Tip #2 – Keep your license & registration in an easily accessible place
When you get stopped by a police officer, one of the first things he or she will ask for is your license and registration. If you’re fumbling around trying to find them or hand the officer the wrong documents by mistake, this will be taken as a possible indicator of impairment. If possible, have your license and registration ready to give the officer by the time he approaches your window.
Tip #3 – Politely refuse to perform the roadside sobriety tests
If the officer believes you’ve been drinking, there are 2 types of tests you will likely be asked to perform on the side of the road. The first type are called fieldside sobriety tests, which include things like walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and checking your eyes for horizontal gaze nystagmus. The second type of test is a portable breath test, which you must blow in to. Some officers will try to convince you these tests are required, but the truth is, they are completely optional and will almost never help you. Unless you’ve consumed absolutely no alcohol in the past 24 hours, we strongly recommend that you politely refuse to perform either of these 2 types of tests. Although you may still be arrested, without the evidence from the roadside sobriety tests, it will be much more difficult for the police to make a case against you.
Tip #4 – The Breathalyzer
Once you’re arrested for a DWI, you’ll be taken to the police station or mobile police unit and asked to take another breath test on the Breathalyzer machine. Up until this point, we’ve advised you to politely refuse to perform any sobriety tests, but whether you should refuse to blow into the Breathalyzer is a much more complicated issue. The Breathalyzer test results will be the strongest piece of evidence the police have of your guilt. However, the consequences of refusing the Breathalyzer are harsh. For one, you will automatically lose your license for a year and won’t even be eligible for a limited driving privilege for at least 6 months. Furthermore, even if you refuse the breath test, the police could still get a warrant to have your blood drawn for testing.
Therefore, unless you’ve had a prior DWI conviction in the last 7 years, which puts you at significant risk of jail time, you should probably take the Breathalyzer test.
Tip #5 – Always call a witness
Before taking the Breathalyzer test, the police will advise you of your right to have a witness present to observe the testing as long as the witness can arrive within 30 minutes. Therefore, if you choose to call a witness, they must delay the test for 30 minutes to allow the person time to arrive. Always call a witness, even if he or she can’t make it there on time! The required 30 minute delay will only work to your advantage, as your breath/blood alcohol concentration will almost always lower during this time. Furthermore, if the witness does arrive during the 30 minute window, but is denied access to observing the Breathalyzer test, this could be grounds for a dismissal of your case.
Tip #6 – You have the right to remain silent, so use it!
From the time you’re stopped to the time you’re booked, the police will be asking you questions about your drinking. Anything you say to them can and will be used against you, so we do not recommend you answering any questions or volunteering any information. You should remain polite and respectful throughout the entire process, but you always have the right to remain silent, so use it!
Tip #7 – Call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel as soon as you're released
During a free consultation, you’ll receive specific advice related to the facts of your particular case. We can also help start the process of getting you back on the road.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Wake County, call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel at (919) 585-1486 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Raleigh DWI lawyers.