Areas Of Practice


Traffic Citations | Driving While Impaired (DWI)


Traffic Citations:

Most people get a few traffic tickets in their lives.  If you receive a citation an attorney may be able to prevent an increase in your insurance premium or the loss of your driving privilege.  Since 1991, I have been helping people with traffic violations and in many cases without their having to come to court.  If you have questions about your citation and call our office Gail Greear (paralegal) or I will  be glad to discuss your case with you.
Driving While Impaired (DWI)

While it is true that the vast majority of all DWI cases in Wake County end in a guilty plea,  every case is different and the more you look into a case the more unique it becomes. Also, DWI law became ever more complex in recent years as the legislature aggressively attempted to address every perceived loophole in the DWI laws.  This complexity requires that in order to successfully try a case that an attorney knows the law, alleges a smart defense, and is familiar with the local rules of court.  And luck always helps win a trial.   On the other hand, when a case is lost there are many advantages for a client who has thoughtfully positioned himself to face the penalties of the new DWI laws.
An attorney has a duty to protect the best interest of his client. While a DWI attorney is not a counselor for substance abuse,  it happens that the law regarding incarceration for DWI favors people who have responsibly addressed the possibility they have an issue with alcohol.   So it is part of my duty as an attorney to consider the health and safety of my client which in turn benefits the safety of every other person on the road. 


Getting a pre-trial limited driving privilege:


Your license is revoked for 30 days when you are charged with DWI but in most cases you you are eligible to ask a judge for a limited driving privilege 10 days after you are charged.  Since this pre-trial privilege lasts for only about 20 days and it costs $100,  whether to get one is an individual decision. 
If you decide to ask a judge for a pre-trial privilege, look for a hand-out entitled "Requirements for a Pre-trial Limited Driving Privilege" that the magistrate should have given you when you left jail.   It lists three requirements, first is to schedule a substance abuse assessment from a treatment counselor. Click here for a list of assessing agencies in Wake County. The counselor will meet with you and order you to take a class; you must register for it and pay the registration fee in order to be eligible for the pre-trial limited driving privilege.   In addition there are two documents the judge requires for the privilege - a copy of your driving record and a DL-123 from your insurance agent that states that you have liability insurance on your car.  Also, in case you work on nights or week-ends you would need a letter from your employer to have those hours included on your pr-trial privilege.   


The following summary of penalties is stated entirely in G.S. 20-179 which you may view at
The lightest punishment for DWI in the case of a first conviction of someone with a valid driver's license is the loss of the license for a year in exchange for a limited driving privilege, 24 hours of community service, a $100 fine, an assessment by a substance abuse counselor and alcohol counseling classes.  (If you had a pre-trial limited privilege then those classes satisfy this requirement.)  You must complete the classes and pay the fees before your license is restored at the end of the year.  
On the other hand, the heaviest punishment occurs in a case involving one of the 4 circumstances listed below known as "grossly aggravating factors" (GAV's).  If one of these first 3 GAV's listed below are present, then the judge must order a minimum sentence of 7 days;  if any 2 of the first 3 GAV'S are present, then the minimum sentence is 30 days. If GAV (4) is present alone, then the minimum sentence is also 30 days. (This is startling to consider.)  Keep in mind that judges tend to give those minimum sentences in the mildest cases and if the facts are otherwise aggravated then the law allows sentences of up to 3 years.  
The GAV's are:


  1. A prior conviction for DWI within 7 years before the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced; or
  2. Driving by the defendant at the time of the current offense while his driver's license was revoked for a prior DWI.
  3. Serious injury to another person caused by the defendant's impaired driving at the time of the offense.
  4. Driving by the defendant while (i) a child under the age of 18 years, (ii) a person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years, or (iii) a person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle at the time of the offense.


If none of the GAV's listed above exists the punishment falls into a middle range in which there is no mandatory jail time.  The client loses his license for a year and if the driver had a valid license then he may get a limited driving privilege; he must perform community service of either 24, 36 or 72 hours depending on the facts of his case.

P 919-828-5500 | F 919-827-1355 |