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  • Coastal South Law

Administrative Hearings in Driving While Impaired (DWI) Cases

In North Carolina, all Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses are criminal matters, even the first offense. Only one state remains where the first offense is a civil matter, and that is Wisconsin. These criminal convictions result in jail time. This jail time can be a matter of years in some cases, depending on the circumstances of the case and the number of DWI convictions the defendant previously obtained.

Not too long ago, the Criminal Justice Reform act was heavily featured in the news. You may remember hearing lots of talk about “mandatory minimums” at that time. Mandatory minimums refer to the minimum time an individual must be incarcerated for a particular offense. In other words, there cannot be a plea agreement that results in the defendant sitting less time nor does the judge have any discretion in ordering less time. DWIs are included in the offenses that have mandatory minimums. Penalties for such crimes seem to be getting harsher and harsher. North Carolina has some of the toughest penalties in the nation. For these reasons, it is imperative to have an experienced DWI attorney by your side every step of the way. From the very beginning of the case, every action your attorney takes can be beneficial. This is true not just in the criminal court but also for the administrative hearing.

Administrative Hearing

DWIs have two components — the DMV hearing and the criminal court hearing. If a driver refuses to allow the police officer to administer the breathalyzer test or is simply unable to take the test, this is called a “refusal,” and the driver’s license is automatically revoked. Having a refusal can result in a one-year revocation of driving privileges, even if the driver is eventually found not guilty in the criminal case. If a driver complies with the test but has a blood alcohol content (BAC) result of 0.08 or higher, his driving privileges are also revoked. Most defendants do not realize they have an option for an administrative hearing to reverse the revocation.

Possible Defenses at an Administrative Hearing

  • Driver had a medical condition that made it impossible to perform the breathalyzer test.

  • Police officer wrongly accused the driver of refusing the test.

  • Police error.

  • Legal technicalities.

The administrative hearing must be requested quite quickly after the initial arrest. The hearing happens long before the conclusion of the criminal case, and often before the defendant even has a court appearance in the criminal courts. A win at the administrative hearing likely results in a reinstatement of driving privileges. In addition to a possible win at the DMV hearing, another advantage of having a lawyer present for that hearing is all the potential information your lawyer will learn about your case early on and then be able to utilize that newly-acquired knowledge to help build a defense in the criminal matter.

Contact an Attorney Today

Were you recently pulled over for a Driving While Impaired? Have you already been charged with a Driving While Impaired? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to fight for you in the criminal justice system both inside and outside of the courtroom from the beginning of the case until the very end. Having a tough negotiator and litigator on your side can make all the difference. Pick up the phone today and call 910-253-0411 or visit us online at

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