You've Been Arrested for DWI in Raleigh - What To Do Now?

Defending a DWI case is a complex process. Your journey begins when you hire a local Wake County DWI Attorney.

First, Our Credentials

North Carolina DWI lawyers Wiley Nickel & Mary Elizabeth Robertson are experienced Wake County DWI lawyers and have knowledge of both criminal and civil law. At The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, located in Cary, we focus on Driving While Impaired (DWI)misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, traffic tickets, and DMV hearings.  Mr. Nickel and Ms. Robertson will work tirelessly on your behalf and make themselves personally available to answer questions when you need them – evenings, weekends, and holidays. Both attorneys can be reached by phone at 919-585-1486 and by email at and  We know how stressful this ordeal is to you and will be engaged in every step of the process to ease your mind.  Mr. Nickel & Ms. Robertson will be there to guide you from start to finish.

The Arrest and DWI Investigation Process

If you’re reading this material, you or someone you care about has had a long night in Wake County, NC. 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 happens next.

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. 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?

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.

You haven’t slept very much because of the stress of going to jail. You think about your driving record and what may even happen with your job. You worry 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.

Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)

The first thing almost every client wants to know is “when can I drive again?” After a DWI arrest, you may be told before being released that your driving privilege has been suspended for the next thirty (30) days.  In many 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 your privilege be signed. We then file it with the court, pay your $100 fee, and get you back on the road.  Thirty (30) days from your arrest date, you will be able to get your original license returned after payment of another $100 fee to the court. We explain this procedure in detail in other sections of this website. Of course, you can call us, and we will further explain what needs to be done.

What is the DWI Court Process?

Wake County DWI cases generally take 6-9 months to be resolved.  You will have to be present at all scheduled court dates.  Your first court date and time is shown on the arrest documents given to you when you're released from jail.  On that first date, we will speak with the arresting officer to learn what was recorded about the circumstances of your arrest, we will also examine all documents in your file and request a second court date.   In the meantime, we will file several standard motions and request any video evidence that may be available in your case.

There will be several more court dates while we continue to collect all of the State’s evidence, including the arrest video.  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 your case and your decision. We always remember that we work for you.

Is a DWI Case Worth Fighting?

Absolutely. A DWI arrest is a misdemeanor, not a felony. But, if you are convicted or plead guilty, a DWI conviction results in a permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged as of a new law that takes effect in December of 2015. 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 toughest DWI laws in the country, subject to few legal, rather than factual, defenses. You are beginning a very stressful time in your life. That’s 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 mitigators with the goal of minimizing your ultimate punishment level and sentence. The choice of how to proceed is always yours.

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.

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.

What to Do Right Now?

Call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for initial answers and guidance.  You can reach us at our office in Cary at 919-585-1486.  We can speak over the phone or schedule a free in office consultation.


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.