Most North Carolina residents assume that DUI and DWI charges are reserved for drunk drivers. However, the official name of the crime is Driving While Impaired (DWI). This means that those under the influence of substances like marijuana may also be charged with a DWI if caught behind the wheel. If a police officer observes you driving with symptoms of impairment like weaving and sudden stops, they could pull you over and charge you with a DWI.
To avoid harsh penalties such as heavy fines and time behind bars, you need the expertise of an experienced DWI attorney. At King Law, our skilled DWI attorneys understand how stressful this situation is and will work tirelessly to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We take a personalized approach to every case to ensure every client gets the best representation possible for the charges they face.
Ways the Police Can Prove Impairment in a Marijuana DWI Case
Suppose an officer pulls you over because they suspect you are under the influence of alcohol or another substance like marijuana. In that case, they will observe you for signs of impairment or indicators that you may be drunk or high. Some signs officers may look for when they suspect marijuana impairment include:
- Reckless or careless driving behaviors
- The content and tone of the defendant’s interactions with police officers
- The defendant’s performance on field sobriety tests (FSTs) such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg
- The defendant’s eye dilation
- Irregular speech patterns
- The smell of marijuana
- Rapid heart rate
- Quick and shallow breathing
- Red or irritated eyes
- Decreased reaction time
If you are arrested for a DWI, you may be asked to submit to a chemical drug test. If the officer suspects you are under the influence of marijuana, you may be subject to a blood test to measure the THC levels present in your bloodstream. While the results of this test may be used against you as evidence, it is essential to note that a positive blood test only indicates that you have used marijuana recently and does not necessarily indicate your level of impairment at the time of the arrest.
Penalties for a Marijuana DWI in North Carolina
The sentencing guidelines for marijuana DWI are the same as those for a drunk driving DWI. If this is your first DWI offense, the crime will likely be charged as a misdemeanor. If convicted, the severity of the punishment will depend heavily on whether or not your case contained any aggravating factors, such as endangering a minor or causing a car accident. Individuals convicted of a misdemeanor DWI may face up to 30 days behind bars and a fine of up to $4,000.
Those with prior DWI convictions may be charged with a felony-level offense and face even harsher penalties. Convicted individuals may spend up to a year in prison and lose their driving privileges for life. Additionally, convicted felons often face continued hardships long after their sentence is served. Many convicted felons have difficulty securing employment or a place to live and often have trouble maintaining their reputation and relationships.
Possible Defenses for a Marijuana DWI Charge
If you have been charged with a marijuana DWI in North Carolina, the stakes are too high to forgo quality legal representation. Our attorneys at King Law are well-versed in many defense strategies and will use their extensive expertise to your advantage. Some strategies your attorney may employ include:
- The field sobriety test was administered incorrectly
- The results of the chemical drug test were inaccurate or not indicative of impairment
- You were not operating a motor vehicle
- The officer did not have probable cause to pull you over
- You did not consent to a blood or urine test
- The sample used for chemical testing was mislabeled or stored improperly.
It is essential to remember that the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. Your attorney will get to know you and review the facts of your case to determine which strategies are the best fit to erode the prosecutor’s case against you.
Contact an Expert DWI Defense Attorney at King Law
If you have been charged with a DWI, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. The experienced DWI attorneys at King Law understand your stress and are dedicated to supporting you through this challenging ordeal. Our attorneys are proud to serve their clients in North Carolina and South Carolina and help them achieve favorable outcomes for their cases. Our award-winning team has a proven track record of success and is committed to protecting your rights and delivering the best possible results. To learn more about how our legal experts can help you, give us a call at (888) 748-5464 (KING) or fill out our contact form today.