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Elements of a DWI Case



You may think that being convicted of DWI is as simple as simple as being pulled over and failing a field sobriety test, but in reality, that is just the beginning of a much longer process, which may or may not end in a DWI conviction. There are actually a number of elements that the prosecution must prove in order for a conviction to stand, and all of these elements can be challenged. What is more, the prosecution has the burden of proving these elements to a very high degree. In fact, they must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Any defenses will create doubt. That is why it is so important to understand the elements of the crime you are being charged with; it gives you the opportunity to challenge each piece of the case against you. Understanding the arguments against you is critical to defeating them. The information in this article is intended to be general. However, if you would prefer personalized feedback, you are welcome to contact the experienced Bolivia, North Carolina criminal defense lawyers at Coastal South Law to schedule a personalized consultation.


What are the Elements of a DWI?


In order to be found guilty of DWI, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were driving a vehicle while impaired on a street, highway, or public vehicular area in North Carolina. To get an idea of the individual elements that must be established, let’s break that down.


  • Driving. In order to be convicted of DWI, you must have been operating a vehicle. In most cases, this means you must have had the key in the ignition, or in your possession, such that it demonstrates an intent to drive in order for the prosecution to succeed on this element. If you were not the person driving, did not have the key or a way to drive the vehicle, or if the vehicle was inoperable, these all may serve as defenses to this element.

  • Vehicle. Whatever you were driving must have been a vehicle. That means that you cannot be charged with DWI for riding a bicycle, but a motorcycle or anything with an ignition that would be allowed to drive on a highway would constitute a vehicle.

  • While Impaired. The prosecution has the burden of proving that you were impaired while driving. In order to meet this burden, they will likely introduce evidence obtained by officers at the scene, such as breathalyzer test results or field sobriety test results. These test results can be challenged in court on a number of grounds, including the chain of custody, and providing other grounds for the results other than intoxication.

  • On a street, highway, or public vehicular area in North Carolina. In other words, you can’t be charged with DWI for driving in your own driveway or on your own property.


Schedule a Consultation with Coastal South Law


If you are facing DWI charges in North Carolina, it is important to talk to an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Coastal South Law in Bolivia, North Carolina are experienced at getting clients’ DWI charges reduced and even dismissed. Call today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you.

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