In this final part of a three-part series, guest writer and criminal defense attorney Patrick Mincey offers guidance for handling drinking and driving during the holidays.
At what point during a traffic stop should I be read my Miranda rights?
There is a common misconception that, as part of every arrest, an officer must read Miranda
warnings. This duty is only triggered if law enforcement intends to elicit statements from you after arrest and then introduce those statements as evidence in court. Typically, in DWI investigations, law enforcement officers are trained to get most of the statements they need before arresting you, and therefore Miranda
warnings will not be necessary.
However, in North Carolina, there is a specific DWI-rights form that law enforcement must read to you before submitting you to the Intoxymeter. Among other things, at this point, the officer will advise you of your right to call a witness to observe and implications if you wilfully refuse to blow into the Intoxymeter.
If I am charged with a DWI, will I go to jail?
If you are charged with DWI, you will be taken before a magistrate judge who can set a secured bond, which you would either have to post or hire a bondsman to post before you can be released. Every case is different, and both the kind and amount of bond will depend on a host of factors such as your prior record, your history of missing prior court dates and circumstances of your particular case. It is not just a matter of getting a citation to court like you might with an ordinary speeding ticket.
If I am charged with a DWI, what happens to my license?
If it is your first DWI charge and you had an otherwise valid North Carolina license in good standing with the DMV, you will automatically have your North Carolina driving privileges suspended for 30 days.However, in most circumstances an attorney can assist you to obtain a limited driving privilege after 10 days. Any other suspensions of your license beyond initial civil suspension will depend on the circumstances of your particular case, whether you refused to blow into the Intoxymeter and whether you are ultimately convicted of DWI.
If I am charged with a DWI, do I have to appear before a judge?
Yes. DWI is a class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. Assuming you are charged in state court (as opposed to driving on federal land or a military installation), your case will start in district court before a district court judge.
How does my other prior DWI conviction affect my current DWI charge?
This will be entirely dependent on specific factors of your new charge and how long it has been since your last DWI conviction. If you are ultimately convicted, the stakes can be raised tremendously with a second offense, including your ability to get a limited driving privilege, the potential for a mandatory jail sentence and a host of other probation considerations.
Because every case is different, an attorney can guide you for the particular aspects of your case.
Enjoy a safe holiday season!
John D. Martin is a trial lawyer and the managing partner of the Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP’s Wilmington, North Carolina office. Martin concentrates his practice in the medical malpractice and professional liability defense practice groups. He has tried numerous medical malpractice and personal injury cases throughout eastern North Carolina. Many of his cases involve brain injury, birth trauma, paraplegia and wrongful death. Additionally, Martin has experience with large construction litigation, premises liability and hospital/workplace security. To contact Martin, call (910) 777-6018 or email him at [email protected].