If you have been charged with DWI in North Carolina, your life is not over. An arrest is not a conviction — the state must prove that you were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the DWI arrest in order to obtain a conviction. You still have legal rights regardless of whether you think you are guilty of a DWI or not. In order to protect your legal rights and to give you the best chance of beating a DWI charge, you need to contact and experienced NC DWI attorney immediately.
A DWI attorney may not be able help you get out of a DWI ticket; however, an attorney is your best chance of reducing the damage from an impaired driving conviction. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be severe depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. You may think you cannot afford a DWI attorney but not hiring a DWI attorney may cost you much more in the long run.
The True Cost of a DWI Conviction
It is difficult to calculate the true cost of a DWI conviction because each case is different and each person’s financial situation is unique. North Carolina has enacted drunk driving laws that include severe penalties for a conviction. In trying to calculate the total cost of a DWI conviction, it is necessary to include both the short-term direct consequences of the conviction and then the long-term indirect consequences. The direct consequences generally are fairly easy to figure out, but the long-term impact will vary significantly between people based on their individual circumstances.
Short-Term Costs of a DWI Charge and Conviction
Typically there are a few months between the time you are charged with DWI and when the case is finally resolved in court. This time can vary between one or two months to as long as two or three years. However the typical DWI case in Onslow or Duplin county is resolved in about six months from the time a person is first arrested. The short-term costs are the ones that occur during this period of time, and they typically include:
- $100 civil revocation fee paid to the clerk of court to get license back after 30 day civil revocation period
- $100 cost for an initial alcohol abuse assessment
- Cost for alcohol classes recommended by the assessment, ranging from $160 for a basic “ADETS” class to several hundred or even thousands of dollars for more intensive treatment
- Court cost of approximately $200 plus a special $100 DWI surcharge
- Community service fee of $250 if the court requires community service hours
- Fines ranging from $100 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the case
- $100 fee for a limited driving privilege
- Attorneys fees (typically $1500 or more for quality representation, can vary widely between different jurisdictions and among lawyers)
Long-Term Costs of a DWI Conviction
After a DWI conviction, many of the long-term costs are more significant, but also harder to spot. Many of the consequences of a DWI are felt over time in the form of higher costs for many things, including:
- Increased Automobile Insurance–North Carolina’s “safe driver incentive plan” mandates a rate increase of 340% for three years following a DWI conviction;
- Loss of Professional Licenses–Any commercial driver’s license will certainly be forfeited due to a DWI conviction, and many other professional licenses (pilot’s license, medical license, etc.) can be put at risk;
- Increased Life Insurance Premiums–Insurance companies base their premiums on their assessment of your risk, so just as a smoker will pay a higher life insurance premium, a person with a DWI record is likely to be more expensive to insure;
- Lost Wages–time spent in court or in jail means time spent not working. Too much time away from work could mean losing the job entirely;
- Civil Lawsuit–if your case involved a motor vehicle accident with another driver, there is a possibility of being sued in civil court to recover damages to personal injuries or property damage. While your insurance company may be able to handle this, if the damages exceed the limits of your insurance policy you could be on the hook for whatever is left.
A DWI attorney may be able to help you avoid the potential long term costs of a drunk driving conviction. It is in your best interest to discuss your options as soon as possible. Invoke your right to remain silent and contact our office immediately.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DWI Attorney
“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”
Welch and Avery is a criminal defense law firm serving clients throughout Duplin County and Onslow County. Call our office at (910) 347-0161 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving or impaired driving in North Carolina, you need a DWI attorney who understands North Carolina impaired driving laws and who routinely practices in the state’s criminal court system. Please take advantage of our free consultation — the potential cost of an impaired driving conviction is too high to ignore.
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