Hertford DWI Lawyer
If you Googled, “DWI defense lawyer in Hertford,” we’re here to help. What you may not realize that there is actually more than one Hertford in North Carolina.
There is the waterfront town of Hertford on the Perquimans River, which is in Perquimans County. There is also the county of Hertford on the Virginia border, home of the cities of Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, and Winton.
Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys
“There is a fair amount of confusion about Hertford, especially for people visiting from out of town. When someone tells us they were arrested for DWI charges in Hertford, the first question we ask in response is, ‘Town or County?’”
– Danny Glover, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Each state has its own DWI laws. Indeed, while many people may still call it “drunk driving,” there are technical differences between DUI, DWI, OWI, and other similar charges throughout the US.
In fact, it’s no longer formally referred to as “drunk driving” or “drunken driving” in North Carolina. That's true in many other jurisdictions as well.
For example, impaired driving in Virginia uses the acronym DWI, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated. In South Carolina, it’s called DUI or “Driving Under the Influence.”
In North Carolina, Chapter 20 of the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Laws references Impaired Driving. As such, we use the same acronym DWI, but that stands for Driving While Impaired, as opposed to Driving While Intoxicated.
It’s relevant to note, there are aspects of the criminal law in North Carolina (DWI charges is normally deemed a misdemeanor offense, with some important exceptions) that still acknowledge, at least in part, driving under the influence of alcohol as being a part of DWI.
There are three general ways to prove the Defendant was impaired:
- Blood, Breath, or Urine reading of .08 or higher
- Appreciable Impairment – Loss of normal control of mental or physical faculties to an appreciable, noticeable extent
- Any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in blood or urine
- Active / Inactive Ingredients
The State has the “burden of proof” for criminal charges. That means the prosecutor, the Assistant District Attorney or “ADA,” is required to show to the satisfaction of the Finder of Fact the Defendant:
- Operated a Vehicle
- On a Public Vehicular Area, Street or Highway
- In North Carolina
- While Subject to an Impairing Substance
Impairing substances may be both legal and illegal substances, including alcohol, marijuana, and even lawfully prescribed medications.
You do not need to intend to “drive drunk.”
In fact, impaired driving in North Carolina is not that high of a standard. Drunk driving normally refers to something more substantial.
Impairment is a much lower legal burden of proof. The State need only show you were impaired by a controlled substance and that substance affected your mind or body to such extent that it was “noticeable” or “appreciable.”
That doesn’t mean the State’s burden is light.
In fact, proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the highest legal standard in the land. It’s not just the burden in North Carolina.
For all criminal charges in the United States, the prosecutor (or solicitor in some states) must prove each and every “element” of the offense Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Reasonable Doubt is not a fanciful or vain doubt. It is based on common sense and reason. Reasonable Doubt entirely convinces or fully satisfies the Finder of Fact of guilt.
Whether someone is guilty or innocent is determined by the Finder of Fact. In District Court, that would be the District Court Judge.
You have a Constitutional Right to a Trial by Jury. That means District Court matters may be appealed De Novo as a matter of right to Superior Court because there are not juries in District Court in NC for criminal offenses.
In Superior Court, under a relatively recently amendment to the NC Constitution, you may waive your right to a Jury Trial. That’s your choice and it is by no means required. In that instance, the Judge could decide Guilt or Innocence instead of a Jury.
The standard of proof remains the same, whether the Finder of Fact is a Judge or jury. It’s proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in all criminal charges, which is different from civil trials involving things like car accident cases, contract disputes, and other legal issues involving money, property, and other civil causes of action.Examples of Driving While Impaired in North Carolina
A. Defendant is pulled over in Highway 13 in Ahoskie, North Carolina for speeding and reckless driving. The State Highway Patrol officer arrests defendant for DWI, noting in the arrest affidavit of the charging officer, “Defendant speeding 72/55 mph zone. Strong odor of alcohol, red, glassy eyes. HGN 6/6, 5/8 on Walk and Turn. Refused other standardized field sobriety test. Refused PBT. Refused breath test.”
Defendant may be found guilty of DWI under the “appreciable impairment” prong of N.C.G.S. 20-138.1. A blood or breath reading is not required to find the Defendant guilty. In fact, Defendant’s refusal to submit to an evidentiary breath test may be used against him at trial as evidence of knowledge of impairment. Furthermore, Defendant may not be eligible for a Limited Privilege extended period of time, as NCDMV may also revoke for a “Willful Refusal.”
B. Defendant is stopped at a DWI checkpoint in Hertford NC on Business 17. The Perquimans County Deputy Sheriff requests a breath sample on a handheld Alco-Sensor FST “breathalyzer” test. Defendant complies two times and advised the readings on the roadside test were .07 and .06. Defendant is arrested and charged with DWI in Perquimans County. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 20-16.2, Defendant provides a voluntary breath sample on the EC/IR II at the jail. The reported BAC is 0.08 on the test slip.
Despite inconsistent readings on the Alco-Sensor FST, the roadside or “handheld” breath test, and the EC/IR II downtown, the Defendant may be found guilty of Driving While Impaired due to a BAC of .08 or higher.
The numerical value of the handheld “breathalyzer” is not admissible as evidence in the trial in North Carolina. The Officer may only testify to a “Positive” or “Negative” reading on the AlcoSensor.
A. Defendant is a terminal cancer patient and is lawfully prescribed Morphine Methylbromide, as needed for pain. On his way to the hospital, Defendant is involved in a car accident that is determined not to be his fault. Defendant last took morphine 18 hours before. When asked by the Hertford Police Officer if he was on medications, Defendant advised he was prescribed morphine for pain but, “Hadn’t taken it since yesterday and felt fine. It hardly touches the pain at this point.”
A blood sample is taken and submitted to the SBI State Bureau of Investigation crime laboratory for sampling. GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy) testing indicates the “existence of a Schedule I metabolite in sample, no active impairing substance found.”
The NC DWI law indicates any amount of a Schedule I substance found, even those not presently impairing the person to whom it has been prescribed, may serve as a legal basis for a conviction for driving while impaired.
An experienced criminal lawyer, well well-versed with the procedures and protocols for DWI charges in Hertford would carefully analyze whether the Defendant was appreciably impaired.Hertford DWI Attorney Danny Glover
If you have questions about your DWI charges in Hertford, give us a ring, we’re here to help. It doesn’t matter whether the charges took place in Hertford County or in the Town of Hertford in Perquimans County.
Danny Glover is an experienced DWI defense lawyer who helps people in both jurisdictions.
Call now to schedule your complementary consultation.