Raleigh DWI Lawyer: Expert DUI Defense in Raleigh, NC

Let A Raleigh DWI Lawyer Help You!

You may be wondering “What to do when you have been caught driving while intoxicated in Wake County?” The North Carolina State Justice System vigorously prosecutes all DWI cases and aims to get a conviction in every single case no matter what they have to do. This means if you are facing any of the below charges, you need the legal aid of A Coolidge Law Criminal Defense Attorney.

  • Driving Under The Influence | DUI
  • Under 21 DWI
  • Drunk Driving
  • Failed Field Sobriety Tests
  • Driving Motorized Scooters Under the Influence
  • Student Misconduct

DWI convictions can lead to a host of penalties and sentencing including jail, revoked license, exorbitant fines, loss of job, and even confiscation of your car. However, do not assume you’re guilty just because you have been given a DWI charge. The Wake County law allows for the assumption of innocence until proven as guilty. Our experienced DWI defense attorneys can get you started with a free consultation today!

Facing DWI Charges in Raleigh, NC?

At Coolidge Law Firm, our Raleigh DWI Lawyers will fight for anyone accused of drunk driving, underage drinking, or other criminal charges. We will develop a unique strategy based upon the specific circumstances of your case that can challenge any test result brought forward and fight for dismissal. We will obtain every piece of evidence that exists in your case. From dash cam videos to officers’ notes, reports, and maintenance logs of the breathalyzer machine.

We represent clients throughout Wake County, including:

  • Raleigh
  • Cary
  • Morrisville
  • Apex
  • Wake Forest
  • Knightdale
  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Holly Springs
  • Garner

These criminal defense service areas also include college students from the many surrounding schools, including Duke University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), Meredith College, William Peace University, and Shaw University.

If any of these situations sound like you, contact a skilled Wake County DWI Lawyer to schedule a free consultation. (919) 239-8448

Can DWI Charges be Dropped?

Now that you have been charged with a potential guilty verdict for DWI charges, you are probably wondering what options you have for DUI defense. In many cases, there is a concern of

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Driver’s license revocation or limited driving privileges

Many of these penalties have long-lasting effects on your permanent criminal record. This is why it is important to consult an experienced Raleigh DWI lawyer with a history of proven results. Start with a free consultation with Coolidge Law Firm today!

Raleigh Impaired Driving Information

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North Carolina Law on DWI

It is illegal, under N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1, to drive a vehicle on the public streets, highways, and vehicular areas of North Carolina under the influence of any impairing substance, including alcohol. The charge is called Driving While Impaired, or “DWI,” in North Carolina. Some people may refer to it as “DUI.”

If a chemical tests shows your blood contains eight parts or more of alcohol for every 10,000 parts of blood (0.08 percent) and you are driving, you may also be charged with DWI. Blood alcohol content (BAC) depends on many factors, including weight, metabolism, sex, food consumed, the type of drink consumed, and how quickly they were consumed. It is not as simple as “two drinks.”

“Impairing substance” goes beyond alcohol. It is illegal to drive, for instance, while faculties are impaired due to marijuana or prescription drugs. Under the law, it is illegal to drive with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolites in the blood or urine. Schedule I includes heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy (MDMA).

For suspects under 21, the law in Wake County does not permit you to have any alcohol in your system whatsoever. So even a BAC of 0.01 would result in your being charged.

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The DWI Stop

There are few greater feelings of apprehension a person can experience than when police lights go off behind them, ordering them to pull over. What happens during a DWI stop — the rights the suspect asserts and how closely police officers follow procedure — can dramatically affect the outcome of any DWI investigation.

Reasonable Suspicion

An officer may not simply pull over any vehicle on the street and test the driver for drunk driving. They must have “reasonable articulable suspicion.” Reasonable suspicion is an articulable set of facts that a person could look at and objectively argue that criminal activity is afoot.

It is not enough to say that a person was leaving the Downtown Raleigh area at 2 a.m., or that they were driving a car typically driven by people partying.

Behavior police often give as evidence of reasonable suspicion includes;

  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Speeding
  • Rolling through stop signs or traffic signals

If the police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull a person over, that person’s defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress all evidence that resulted from the stop. In most circumstances, this will leave the prosecutor with no choice but to dismiss the charges.

The DUI Test

If an officer pulls a person over and suspects him or her of driving while under the influence, the officer will ask the driver to perform a sobriety test to determine whether he or she is impaired. Tests for impairment can include:

  • Breath Test: In North Carolina, officers use the Intox EC/IR II device to measure the amount of alcohol in the breath.
  • Blood Test: Officers may test the blood of a person suspected of driving while intoxicated.
  • Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST): These tests are designed to determine a driver’s impairment by considering the person’s balance, coordination, and ability to divide his or her attention among several tasks at once.

Anyone can refuse to perform any standardized field sobriety tests without consequence. These tests are voluntary. Refusing to perform these standardized tests or other non-standardized tests that the police may use (alphabet test, finger-to-nose, finger dexterity, or other non-sense) can deny prosecutors crucial evidence in proving someone’s impairment. Do NOT help them to convict you by performing any voluntary test.

While you can refuse to perform any field sobriety testing, you cannot refuse to provide a sample of your breath without losing your driving privilege for one year. Officers can also apply for a search warrant to obtain a sample of your blood if you refuse to perform the breath test.  Your blood will be tested for alcohol so refusing the breath test may ultimately not only result in the prosecutors knowing your BAC but also you losing your right to drive for one year.

If you provide a sample of your breath as requested by the officer, and the result is .08 or above (.04 if you are a commercial driver, or .01 if you are under 21), your license will be revoked for 30 days.  You cannot drive for these 30 days unless permitted to do so under a pre-trial limited driving privilege.

The standardized and non-standardized tests used by officers, the portable breath device, and the breathalyzer used to confirm your BAC have issues that can be exposed by an experienced DWI defense attorney. Officers often get lazy and do not perform these tests according to protocol. The breath machine may not have been properly calibrated.  At Coolidge Law Firm, we use our own expert, Doug Scott, a 27-year veteran of the Cary Police Department and former commander of their traffic safety department, to evaluate certain cases.  We hold the state to the highest standard and defend your rights at all costs

North Carolina DWI Arrests and Sentencing

The sentence for a North Carolina DWI may be determined on an individual basis depending on the severity of the crime. Level V – A felony if caught with an aggravated felony. The court may suspend a person’s probation if they have been sentenced for more than 24 hours. Level III – Penalties: $500 in fines and 90 hours in jail. The court has the option of suspending the sentence after the driver has served 48 hours in prison. Level III—A prison term from 1 to 6 months with a fine of up to $500.

Remember, to arrest you for driving while impaired, the officer must have probable cause. Probable cause means that sufficient evidence exists that an average officer in similar circumstances can reasonably infer that a person has committed a crime, in this case, DWI. The standard here is higher than that for reasonable articulable suspicion but still lower than beyond a reasonable doubt.

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NC DMV Hearings After a DWI Test Refusal

Under N.C.G.S. § 20-16.2, any person who drives on the roadways within the state has given “implied consent” to a chemical analysis of their blood. As stated, a driver may refuse the test. However, if he or she does so, it is contrary to the “implied consent” provision. The state, therefore, may take civil action in the form of suspending the person’s driving privileges.

Upon refusal, The DMV will revoke your license for 12 months.  The revocation period begins 10 days after the DMV mails you notice of the revocation. If caught driving during the revocation period, you will face another offense, Driving While License Revoked (DWLR).

You do have the right to appeal this revocation and request a hearing before the DMV.  You must submit this request during the 10-day period before the revocation becomes effective.  As your attorney, we can challenge the validity of the DWI stop as well as the willfulness of your refusal.

To keep your license, it is absolutely imperative to act immediately. Call us now so we can begin working on your defense.

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Levels of DWI Charges

Raleigh DWI Lawyer from the Coolidge Law Firm can help

North Carolina currently has 6 levels of punishment for a DWI conviction: Levels 1 through 5, plus an Aggravated Level 1. A Level 5 DWI has the least severe penalties, while an Aggravated Level 1 has the worst.

Contrary to public misperception, judges do not sentence someone to a worse punishment (sentencing level) just because they chose to challenge their DWI at trial.  Rather judges consider the absence or presence of mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors in your case.  Factors may relate to:

Driving Safety

The judge may consider as a mitigating factor that you’re driving at the time of the offense was otherwise safe and lawful except for being impaired.  At the same time, a judge must also consider, especially reckless driving, speeding more than 30 miles per hour, fleeing or eluding a police officer, or passing a school bus as aggravating factors. Negligent driving that leads to an accident is also an aggravating factor, and all judges will find a grossly aggravating factor if you cause serious injury to a person as a result of your drunk driving.

Level of Intoxication

Having a BAC of .09 or below or being impaired due to taking a prescribed medication will be considered a mitigating factor.  However, having a BAC of .15 or above will result in the judge finding an aggravating factor.

Non-DWI Driving Record

Having a driving record free of serious traffic offenses for the past 5 years qualifies as a mitigating factor. A record with two or more serious traffic convictions is an aggravating factor.

Prior DWI Offenses

DWI convictions within the past seven years count as a grossly aggravating factor for each conviction.  A defendant with three or more prior DWI convictions can be tried as a habitual DWI offender and face a minimum one-year jail sentence which cannot be suspended and must be served without exception.

It is also a grossly aggravating factor to be convicted of driving while impaired with a license that has been revoked due to another DWI charge.

Passenger is a Child or Has a Disability

Who you have in the vehicle when an officer charges you with DWI can affect your sentence upon conviction.  Having passengers younger than 18, or who have the mental capacity of someone under age 18, or even passengers who have a disability that would prevent them from escaping the vehicle in an accident would result in the sentencing judge finding a grossly aggravating factor.  Having these factors would cause you to be sentenced to a Level 1 DWI.

DWI on Bird Scooters, Bicycles, and More

The North Carolina law defines a vehicle as any device that a person or property can be transported or drawn upon a highway

except devices moved by human power or used exclusively on rails or tracks. This means the punishment for driving under the influence expands to all types of self-lead transportation, including bicycles, tractors, lawnmowers, and Bird Scooters.


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Punishment for a North Carolina DWI Conviction

The punishment for a DWI conviction depends on the sentencing level assigned by the judge.  The judge bases his decision on weighing the grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors of a particular case.  Based on the sentencing level, punishments for DWI convictions


  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Required abstinence from alcohol
  • Ignition interlock device, once driving privileges have been restored

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

In North Carolina, aggravating and mitigating factors play a pivotal role in determining the sentencing level for individuals charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI). Aggravating factors are elements that compound the severity of the DWI and include instances such as driving recklessly, having a BAC of 0.15 percent or more, driving with a revoked license for non-DWI related reasons, or having prior traffic violations. Grossly aggravating factors further elevate the severity, including having previous DWI convictions, driving on a suspended license due to a prior DWI, or causing an accident resulting in serious injury while impaired. The presence of these factors can escalate the charge to a Level 1, 2, or 1A DWI, depending on the number and nature of the grossly aggravating factors present.

Conversely, mitigating factors have the potential to lessen the severity of the charge. These factors include slight impairment without a chemical analysis, driving safely besides being under the influence, having a safe driving record, and compliance with substance abuse evaluations and recommendations. The judge, upon considering these aggravating and mitigating factors, assigns the DWI a level ranging from 3 to 5. A predominance of aggravating factors results in a Level 3 DWI, an equal number of both leads to a Level 4 DWI, and a predominance of mitigating factors results in a Level 5 DWI.

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Speak With Raleigh North Carolina DWI Lawyers For A Complementary Consultation Today

Every second counts. You need the help of an experienced Raleigh DWI Lawyer as soon as possible.  If you’re facing charges from a DWI case in Wake County, including in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Wendell, Zebulon, and Rolesville, call an experienced Raleigh DWI Defense Lawyer today. Call us at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation.

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Client Testimonials

  • 5 stars
    I can not say enough good about David Coolidge and the Law Firm! From the moment of our 1st interaction, I could tell that David TRULY cares and has a passion about the cases he takes on. I was anxious and nervous about my case from the beginning. David immediately showed his support and listened with an empathetic ear. From that moment on, I felt as though I knew I could trust him to put his whole heart into helping me with my case. He is intelligent, kind and completely nonjudgmental. He will listen to you and is so very supportive. I really felt, and still do, that he really cared about helping me. His passion for his work and in helping others shines. We VERY HAPPILY, had a GREAT outcome from the case and I could not be happier. As I told him when we left the court room that morning... “David, you have changed my life forever”. I would recommend David and this Law Firm to EVERYONE who is reading this review.
    - Brian L.
  • 5 stars
    David Coolidge is a wonderful attorney! I hired him twice for two different cases that I had which were only 2 months apart. He's very thorough and efficient. I was even able to reach him after hours through phone calls, texts, and email. Hopefully I never need his services again but if I am in a similar predicament I would most definitely hire David again.
    - Tiffany C.
  • 5 stars
    Excellent Customer Service. I had a Speeding ticket and they resolved it positively with no points on my Driver License. They represented me in Court and by midday on the Court date, they had updated me on the outcome. Very efficient service. I highly recommend them if you are in need of Legal Services.
    - Stephen O.
  • 5 stars
    I got a speeding ticket for going 17 over. They sent me a letter in the mail explaining that I could plead improper equipment and get no points on my insurance or license. They even gave me the fees straight out on the letter including court costs. They represented me and made the ticket go away.
    - David G.
  • 5 stars
    I cannot say enough about Attorney Coolidge and his staff. He’s handed several matters for me and in every instance he has exceeded my expectations. He even answered a frantic call from me on a Saturday night. I called in desperation not really expecting an answer. Mr. Coolidge delivered on all that he promised and more. I highly recommend.
    - Craig S.
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