There is no difference. Until the 90s they were referred to as DUIs (Driving Under the Influence). The legislature changed it to DWI in the mid-90s. Now it's simply referred to as DWI. Driving While Impaired. Which includes alcohol or drugs whether it be prescription or illegal drugs.
What should I do if I was just arrested for a DUI or DWI?
Absolutely the first thing is to contact an attorney. There can be legal issues which can be detected during the investigation or directly after the investigation. Also, an attorney can give you advice about whether to blow or not. Or whether to say anything to the police. So my advice is to contact an attorney as soon as you can. Whether it be at the scene or at the jail or soon as you get out of jail.
How much will this cost me and will I lose my license?
The price for a DWI can vary from Judge to Judge. However, if it's your first offense you are looking at approximately $200 in court costs and approximately $500 in fines. In addition, in Mecklenburg County there's a $200 community service fee as well as $100 alcohol assessment fee. Depending on how many classes of alcohol education you are required to take, that fee can go substantially higher. In addition, your insurance will typically triple in price for 3 years. Once again, this is only for your first offense. If you have prior offenses then you can add much more in fines and costs and penalties to this price.
How long will a DUI/DWI stay on my record for?
If you are found not guilty or the case is dismissed, it can be expunged immediately. However, if you are convicted it will remain on your record forever. Unfortunately, due to recent changes in the law, North Carolina does not allow DWIs to be expunged in the case of convictions or guilty pleas. For insurance purposes it will remain for approximately 3 years.
Can I get a DUI/DWI if I am below the BAC level?
Yes you can. I've represented several individuals who blew below a .08. While it is relatively uncommon, it can happen. It typically happens when there's evidence of drug use in conjunction with alcohol use. Also, the state routinely prosecutes DWIs when there's no alcohol at all and instead people are impaired on legal or illegal drugs.
What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer test?
This varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, in Mecklenburg County police officers will routinely attempt to obtain a search warrant to draw your blood if you refuse to blow. This was not always the case. However, in recent years, this has become more and more common.
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Since 1995, our founder, Jason H. Reece, has been providing aggressive representation for people accused of DWI, traffic violations or criminal offenses. Every case that comes to our law firm is handled personally by attorney Reece.