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Category Archives: DUI

DUI V. DWI is there a difference in NC?

Many people believe that there is a distinct difference between being charged with a DUI or being charged with a DWI. Truth be told, there is not much of a difference between these two offenses besides the acronym used to describe them. A DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Which can be used to designate if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Both acronyms are used to describe the criminal offense that driving above the legal BAC limit.

In some states where DWI and DUI are classified as different offenses a DUI is the lesser of the two. As it designates a lower level of impairment than a DWI. All states have some form of a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under the legal drinking age. This means that drivers under 21 cannot have any level of BAC, since it is also illegal for a person under 21 to possess or use alcohol.

In North Carolina the Safe Roads Act of 1983 changed the previous drug and alcohol related driving offenses, and put everything under the category of a DWI. North Carolina uses BAC to establish sobriety level upon a suspected alcohol and driving offense. For those over the legal drinking age of 21 and having no prior DWI offenses the legal BAC limit is 0.08%. For commercial drivers and those who have prior alcohol related offenses the BAC limit is reduced to 0.04%. For drivers under the legal drinking age the BAC limit is 0.00%.

A DWI arrest is both administrative and criminal in nature, so there are two separate cases and two sets of penalties you face. The Civil Penalty will depend on the outcome of the criminal case. It pays to have a seasoned DWI lawyer on your side to guide you through the complex process. GreenWilson Attorneys at Law are skilled in DWI and all traffic related offenses. Please contact our office today for more information or to schedule a meeting regarding your personal circumstances.


We’re here to guide you through the complicated, frightening, and often frustrating process known as the criminal justice system. We provide criminal law services at all levels in eastern North Carolina, including misdemeanor and felony trial defense, and post-conviction appellate work in both state and federal court.

To learn how North Carolina law may apply to your unique circumstances or to schedule a consultation, please contact GreeneWilson Attorneys at Law by calling (252) 634-9400 or visiting www.greenewilson.com.



(Sources: duivsdwi.org , DMV.org, the law.com)

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Teens in Trouble Will Get a Break in 2019

North Carolina is no longer the only state in the U.S. to automatically prosecute juveniles, ages 16 and 17, as adults. Last June, the General Assembly ended a century-long practice of prosecuting teens as adults by enacting the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA) as part of the state budget. The bill raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18—most 16 and 17-year-olds will be prosecuted in juvenile court beginning December 1, 2019.

The “Raise the Age” bill will allow a 16- or 17-year-old who commits certain crimes to be tried as a juvenile—not as an adult. Once in effect, all offenses committed by teens of these ages will originate in juvenile court. However, for Class A-G felonies committed by 16 and 17-year-olds, transfer to superior court will be mandatory with either a notice of an indictment or a finding of probable cause by the court. By requiring all juvenile offenses begin in juvenile court, the new legislation gives prosecutors some discretion to retain mandatory transfer cases in juvenile court by reducing the charges based upon further investigation or discovery that occurs prior to the filing of an indictment or a probable cause hearing.

The ACLU praised the bipartisan vote behind what it called a commonsense measure. “North Carolina’s century-old policy of sending 16- and 17-year-olds to adult jails and branding them with lifelong criminal records has been a blight on our state and done nothing to make our communities safer,” commented ACLU lawyer Susanna Birdsong. “It’s long past time for young offenders in North Carolina to have the same opportunities as those in the rest of the country to turn their lives around through the juvenile justice system.”

Improving Lives and Budgets

The JJRA requires North Carolina to make upfront investments. It’s more expensive to move young people through the juvenile criminal justice than the adult system, and the state is now building a $13.2 million Youth Development Center in Rockingham County to account for the expected influx of 16- and 17-year-olds.

But in the end, the law is expected to have significant economic benefits. Jordan Wilkie with The Institute for Southern Studies writes that it will bring an estimated 12% reduction in recidivism for teens sent to the juvenile rather than adult system—that will mean lower long-term costs for law enforcement, courts, incarceration, and victim services.

Salvaging a Future

If you’re not even old enough to vote or buy a drink, should you be forced to deal with adult consequences for a stupid mistake? A prison sentence at such a young age can lead to psychological issues and actually increase the risk of recidivism. Teens face extreme dangers when locked up with adults—they are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those in juvenile facilities and they are 36 times more likely to commit suicide. Rates of physical assault are also higher for juveniles held with adults.

Plus, the teenager now has a conviction that will haunt him or her for a lifetime—a conviction that can result in a loss of job opportunities and bank loans. As long as the teen’s charges are for a non-violent offense, he or she can now stay in the juvenile system and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Let’s face it: Young people make mistakes; from experimenting with drugs to deciding to drive after having a drink. North Carolina will now be able to avoid such negative outcomes through this change in the way courts approach juvenile offenses.

GreeneWilson understands that children are not in a position to effectively articulate their needs, face an intimidating juvenile justice system, or create strategic solutions to their problems—legal or otherwise. Let us help you navigate the sometimes-confusing juvenile legal process. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact GreeneWilson Attorneys at Law by calling (252) 634-9400 or visiting www.greenewilson.com.

(Sources: UNC School of Government; The News & Observer; The Charlotte Observer; The Institute for Southern Studies; North Carolina Department of Public Safety; and Purdue University.)

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Teens and Alcohol: A Disastrous Mix

Drivers under the age of 21 are responsible for approximately 17 percent of all fatal alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. According to the CDC, nearly 2,000 underage drinkers die every year while operating a vehicle, and alcohol is a factor in one-third of all teen auto accidents.

In North Carolina, getting a DWI when you’re under 21 years of age can carry substantial fines and may require some offenders to serve out lengthy terms of probation. It can also have lasting repercussions for those over the age of 18—many former underage drinking convicts report having difficulty finding steady employment or rental housing.

It’s important to note that underage DWI has much more restrictive penalties than a normal DWI. If convicted, you may lose your license for a longer period of time. If you’re under 21, you may not be able to get limited driving privileges.

What’s Considered Under the Influence?

North Carolina is a zero-tolerance state. If a chemical test determines that a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 percent or higher, the driver can be cited for driving under the influence. (For those 21 or older, the BAC limit is .08%)

What Are the Penalties?

There are five levels of misdemeanor DUI charges. Level V is the least serious and Level I is the most serious. For all misdemeanor charges, the license is suspended immediately for 30 days with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.

A Level V misdemeanor DUI is punishable by a fine of up to $200 with a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence to 24 hours of jail or 24 hours of community service.

A Level IV is punishable by a fine of up to $500 with a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days. A judge can suspend the sentence to 48 hours of jail or 48 hours of community service.

Level III misdemeanors have a fine of up to $1,000 with a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of six months. A judge can suspend the sentence to 72 hours of jail or 72 hours of community service.

Level II misdemeanors have a fine of up to $2,000 with a minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum of one year. A judge can’t suspend the minimum sentence for a Level II DUI.

Level I misdemeanors have a fine of up to $4,000 with a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of two years. A judge can’t suspend the minimum sentence for a Level I DUI.

Level I and II drivers are repeat offenders, persons driving with a revoked license, impaired drivers with children in the car, or impaired drivers who’ve hurt someone in a crash.

Those charged with driving after consuming under age 21 for the first time, who have not caused a serious accident, are often given a break by the court. Many counties in our state offer a first-time offender program where criminal charges may be dismissed and/or expunged by meeting certain requirements, such as community service or probation.

Additional Charges

In addition to driving under the influence, an underage drinker may be charged with any of the following:

  • Distributing alcohol to other minors (were there underage drunk passengers?);
  • Minor in possession;
  • Soliciting alcohol;
  • Child endangerment law violations;
  • Possession of false identification (was a fake ID used to purchase alcohol?); and
  • Moving and vehicle maintenance violations (what else did the arresting officer see?).

Don’t Fight Charges Alone

You would never walk into an operating room and tell the doctor you’ll be performing your own surgery, so why would you do the same in a courtroom? As a parent, you know how important it is to give your child every advantage—and that includes expert legal representation. Not only can a good attorney negotiate penalty alternatives like community service and limited driving privileges, he or she will fight to get the minimum penalties, and may even be able to get charges dropped altogether.

A good number of underage drinking charges that don’t come attached to more serious charges are dismissed. While your teenager may have to perform several dozen hours of community service or attend an alcohol-education course, his criminal record will be free of a conviction related to this offense. The initial charge will appear on his public record, but it can more than likely be expunged or sealed at a later date.
Members of the experienced team at GreeneWilson can explain your possible outcomes, investigate your offense, and help you avoid the negative consequences you may face. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact GreeneWilson Attorneys at Law by calling (252) 634-9400 or visiting www.greenewilson.com.

(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; North Carolina Department of Transportation; North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles; Absolute Advocacy; Huffington Post; Nolo Network; and CNN.)

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