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DWI/DUI

Charlotte DWI Defense Attorneys

Defending the Rights of North Carolinians

The state of North Carolina has instituted some of the most punitive laws governing DWIs and in the country. Being convicted of a DWI, or “driving while impaired,” can net you prison time, a suspended or revoked license, and exorbitant fines, even for first-time offenders. Dealing with DWI charges is an expensive, time-consuming process that can quickly upend your life. Convictions can limit future employment opportunities and result in your being denied coverage by insurance companies. Repeat offenders can even have their vehicle seized and sold by the government.

With so much at stake, it is imperative you retain the services of qualified legal representation when facing a DWI charge. Our DWI defense lawyers in Charlotte at Oakhurst Legal Group are prepared to do whatever it takes to defend you and protect your future. We have experience pursuing unique strategies to help our clients fight DWI charges and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing legal options available to you.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI, do not hesitate to call (704) 288-1003 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

Your Rights in a DWI-Related Traffic Stop

When you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer who suspects you are driving while impaired, they will likely request you take a breath- or blood-based test to determine your alcohol concentration and/or whether any drugs are in your system. You are considered to be driving while impaired if your BAC level results return at 0.08 or higher. Commercial vehicle drivers and those are under the age of 21 can be convicted if their results are at or above 0.04.

An officer cannot force you to take either type of test, but understand that North Carolina law will penalize you for refusing. Any driver who declines a requested breath or blood test will suffer a 30-day revocation of their driver’s license ahead of a court hearing. Even if you are not found guilty of a DWI, you will most likely face an additional 1-year revocation due to your refusal to take the test.

It is important to remember that the results of a blood or breath test will be used against you in court, so it may still be in your best interest to refuse a test if you suspect you are impaired. The penalties for being convicted of a DWI are often harsher than those of refusing a test. Some driving privileges can also be reinstated after 6 months of the revocation period have passed.

You have a right to speak to legal representation before deciding whether to take a requested test. Avoid becoming belligerent with law enforcement officers during the stop, as aggressive behavior can lead to additional charges. Our Charlotte DWI defense attorneys are prepared to immediately advise you on whether you should consider declining a requested test.

Consequences for DWI Charges and Convictions in North Carolina

Being convicted of or even merely charged with a DWI or DUI can lead to severe immediate and long-term consequences. The extent of the punitive measures you might face depends on whether you are a first-time or repeat offender along with extenuating circumstances surrounding the incident.

Misdemeanor DWI charges are divided into five levels that carry the following consequences:

  • Level V – Minimum 24 hours in jail with a maximum of 60 days of jailtime; fine of up to $200; if prison sentence is suspended, offender must complete community service and not operate a vehicle for 30 days
  • Level IV – Minimum 48 hours in jail with a maximum of 120 days of jailtime; fine of up to $500; if prison sentence is suspended, offender must complete community service and not operate a vehicle for 60 days
  • Level III – Minimum 72 hours in jail with a maximum of 6 months of jailtime; fine of up to $1,000; if prison sentence is suspended, offender must complete community service and not operate a vehicle for 90 days
  • Level II – Minimum 7 days in jail with a maximum of 1 year of jailtime; fine of up to $,2000; prison sentence cannot be suspended
  • Level I – Minimum 30 days in jail with a maximum of 2 years of jailtime; fine of up to $4,000; prison sentence cannot be suspended

Types of Charges for DWI / DUI

The level of misdemeanor you are charged with depends largely on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Repeat offenders, those endangering minors, and those who cause injuries in accidents as a result of their impairment are more likely to receiver Level III, Level II, or Level I charges. First-time offenders without any compounding circumstances are more likely to receive the less harsh Level V or Level IV charges.

It is also possible to be charged with a felony DWI if you already have at least 3 DWI convictions on your record any time within the past 7 years. A felony DWI conviction requires a minimum of 1 year in prison, a sentence that cannot be suspended.

Commercial drivers receive harsher considerations if convicted of a DWI. There is a zero-tolerance policy in place for school bus drivers to drive while impaired. Other types of commercial drivers will lose their certification to drive their commercial vehicle for 10 days for a first offense and permanently should they be convicted a second time.

Drivers under the age of 21 also face stiff penalties and can be more easily be convicted in a suspected DWI incident. North Carolina stipulates no driver under the age of 21 can have a BAC level of 0.04 or higher, a significantly lower threshold than the legal limit for other drivers. Younger drivers can refuse to take a blood or breath test, but they can still be arrested and convicted of a DWI if an officer smells any alcohol on their breath at the time of the traffic stop.

Finally, if you are arrested for a suspected DWI while your license has been revoked as a result of a previous DWI, law enforcement has the ability to seize and sell your car. Officers have the ability to do this immediately at the time of arrest and do not have to wait until you are convicted in a trial. The only way to recover the vehicle is if it can be demonstrated the owner was not the one driving while impaired and had no active role in the incident.

Why You Need an Attorney to Defend You When Arrested for a DWI

Judges typically have a large amount of discretion in the extent of your sentencing. In cases where you have already taken a BAC test or caused serious injury, it can be difficult to avoid a conviction outright. Our Charlotte DWI defense lawyers can vigorously defend you and work to get you the most reasonable sentence possible.

At Oakhurst Legal Group, our criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte are committed to helping our clients achieve the best results possible in their case, no matter what criminal charges they face. Going up against a DWI can be frightening, but our legal team will be with you every step of the way and are prepared to go the extra mile in limiting the charge’s impact on your future. We will pursue every possible solution and strategy when arguing your case.


Do not wait to call (704) 288-1003 or contact us online if you have been charged with a DWI. We offer our legal services in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.


Real Clients. Real Reviews.

  • I am forever grateful.

    “I have been a client for Darlene Harris for about 3 years. She goes above and beyond to get the job done.”

    - Jarrell
  • Darlene is flat out AMAZING.

    “I’m a community activist and get arrested regularly—there isn’t another person in Charlotte I want to defend my civil rights. She has won every one of my cases!”

    - Jennifer
  • Attorney Darlene Harris has been a trusted legal guide for many years.

    “I am assured that she is always defending and advising me with integrity and a thorough understanding of the law!”

    - Robbie
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Our Victories Speak for Themselves

  • Successful Petition for E-2 Visas Auto Investor Ari Heikkinen and Wife Kaarina Received E-2 Visas

    Sherrod Seward of Oakhurst Legal Group successfully petitioned for E-2 investor visas for Finland national Ari Heikkinen and his spouse, Kaarina Heikkinen.

  • Successful Not Guilty Verdict DUI Charge

    Client was found not guilty at trial due to a successful litigation strategy crafted and used by Attorney Harris.

  • Successful Case Dismissal Felony Charge

    Client charged with felony inciting a riot. After disputing the evidence presented by the D.A. and noting their obvious lack of evidence, this case was dismissed prior to trial.

  • Successful Case Dismissal Felony Possession of Marijuana Charge

    Client charged with possession of marijuana for edible foods. After disputing the lack of evidence and proof in the case, charges were dismissed prior to trial.

  • Successful Case Dismissal Local Ordinance Violation

    Client charged with violating a local ordinance. Attorney Harris argued that the ordinance itself was unlawful therefore, in the interest of justice the case should be dismissed prior to trial.

  • Three-Year Visa Approved Obaika Racing, LLC President and CEO Approved for Three-Year Visa

    We effectively petitioned for a three-year approval for Obaika Racing, LLC superstar Victor Obaika’s L-1A status.

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