• North Carolina DUI Cases | The Benefits to Going to Trial
  • August 31, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • When facing the charge of North Carolina Driving While Intoxicated (also known as a North Carolina Driving Under the Influence), there are many, many questions that these Defendant's have about their case. They want to know what it will mean to the driving record, whether it will be on a background check, how much will it cost, will they lose their license, can they drive, will they go to jail, etc.? All of these, and many more, are all legitimate questions to ask your DWI Attorney Raleigh or the DWI Attorney in your area. However, one of the biggest ones that everyone wants to know is, how will the criminal charge be handled by your attorney. Sadly, I find it necessary to write this article addressing what I see to be a quick conclusion on the Defendant, as well as, in some instances, their Attorney, to plead out a DWI charge in North Carolina. This article will address why N.C. DWI charges should more often then not be tried, as oppose to plead, advantages and disadvantages to both as well as what the Durham DUI Attorney or DUI Attorney in your area should cover with you.

    First, let's be clear one something important. The sentence you receive for pleading guilty to a DWI and being found guilty of DWI after trial IS THE SAME!. A Defendant is not punished in North Carolina for wanting to have a trial instead of just admitting guilt and pleading guilty. However, by pleading guilty to a DWI what you are giving up is the chance of beating the charge. At least if you go to trial, instead of pleading guilty, you have a shot of beating the charge. That being said, there are small differences between the two outcome which I cover below.

    For those who hire me to represent them in their Wake County DWI Charge or Durham County DWI Charge, neither of these counties offer plea deals in which the DWI charge will be taken off the table. I can not speak for other counties in North Carolina, but my understanding is they are all similar in that they do not dismiss or reduce a DWI charge. I'm certain that most of you are wondering why that is, as most DWI Defendant's in North Carolina are first-time offenders who have low blood/alcohol concentrations and have certainly learned from their mistake. Well, first, by Statute, North Carolina does not offer a first-time offense for DWI. The charge that a.08 first-timer faces is the same as a repeat offender with a blood/alcohol of.30 (obviously, their sentencing will be different). Second, North Carolina requires Prosecutors who dismiss or reduce a DWI charge to something else to fill out a form explaining their decision, something most prosecutors would like to avoid. The reality is, in all instances where I practice, as I understand it is the same most everywhere else in North Carolina, the best you can get for pleading guilty to your DWI charge is a dismissal of any other charges you received in addition to the DWI charge (though I could imagine there could be some serious ones that the Prosecutor will not dismiss). Examples of common charge which are dismissed are speeding, left of center, failure to maintain lane control, unsafe movement, etc. So, by pleading guilty, you may avoid a conviction of these other charges, but not the DWI. It's up to every individual whether that is important to them.

    Second, as mentioned before, the sentence for the DWI is the same. So, aside from the hassle (and time) involved in a DWI trial, there is very little, to no downside to a trial.

    What concerns me is current clients, or potential clients who I speak with, who tell me an attorney they have spoken with told them the State has probable cause and so it's not a try-able case. Unless these Raleigh DWI Lawyers have investigated the case, and looked at the Officer's notes, then it is very hard for them to say with any certainty whether a matter is not winnable at trial. The Police may have made a mistake in the administration of the Field Sobriety Test, or Intoxilyzer, or any other of the many things they have to do in order to get the evidence they need, entered into the trial, for a conviction. I honestly don't know if it is just a matter of not being comfortable with all the different facets of a NC DWI Defense, a fear of trial, or just apathy, but in any case, it is disconcerting to know clients with potential defenses may be missing a chance to beat their charge by pleading guilty.

    If you are in need of North Carolina DWI Defense, speak with a local DWI attorney (preferably one who is willing to go to trial for you) about your individual case.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.