DUI Law in Durham, NC

What Is a DUI?

DUI, which refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense that can lead to weighty consequences. Also known as DWI, the process of going to court to face either conviction or exoneration can change the course of your life forever.

Learn more about your DUI law defense options below, and then talk to a local attorney in Durham, North Carolina who will help you in this delicate situation. You don’t have to stare down the consequences alone. You can take wise steps today to protect your interests.

Possible Consequences of a Durham, North Carolina

DUI Conviction

Where you live, the severity of the incident, and your criminal record determine the sentencing for a DUI. The punishments can drastically increase if you have had previous DUIs, so be mindful of that. If this is your first DUI, do not go at it alone and risk costly mistakes. Get a Durham law firm on your side to fight for you and your rights.

Paying Fines

If convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Durham, North Carolina, you can count on fines being a part of your sentencing. In North Carolina, DUI is typically referred to as DWI. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, DWI fines can range from $200 to $4000 in Durham. In addition, your vehicle can be seized for repeat offenses.

However, other factors can drastically increase the amount you must pay, including:

  • Any damage to property while driving under the influence
  • If someone suffered injuries as a result of your intoxicated driving
  • Cases that include child endangerment
  • Any court costs associated with your case

Jail Time

Jail time is mandatory, even for first-time offenders in Durham. If this is your first DUI offense, you may only have to face a day or two in prison. But if you have previous convictions for DUIs, you can be sentenced to several months or years, depending on the nature of the crime. Know that some circumstances can add even more time in a cell, including injury to other people while driving under the influence.


If you do not face jail time, you will likely be on probation, with the sentencing judge determining the duration. You will pay monthly fees, and you cannot commit any more criminal offenses, including traffic violations. If you violate the terms of your probation, count on facing time behind bars.

After a DWI conviction in Durham, you may be sentenced to probation. The terms of your probation can include alcohol treatment, community services, and fines. However, if you violate your probation, you can be subject to additional fines, or a longer probation period. For serious violations, the judge can send you to a CRV (Confinement in Response to Violation) center for up to 90 days, or even to jail. The Community Corrections Division of North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety supervises all DWI probations in Durham.

Drug and Alcohol Education Program

Following a Durham DUI sentencing, the law states you must complete a drug and alcohol education program. This will teach you about the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs cost more fees besides the legal costs you already have to pay.

If you are convicted of a DWI in Durham, you will be required to complete an alcohol assessment. Based on the results, you will be assigned to either a treatment program or to North Carolina’s Alcohol Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS). ADETS is a 16-hour education program, costing $160 plus textbook fees. There are 13 authorized providers in Durham County, all of which are in Durham proper. Once your ADETS class and other requirements are complete, you may be able to reinstate your license at a cost of $140.25 with the North Carolina DMV.

The education programs also include a DUI evaluation. An evaluator asks you questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life. If they believe that you are dependent, you may have to enter a substance abuse treatment program.

Suspension or Loss of License

No matter where you may face a DUI conviction, you have to undergo a license suspension period, at the very least. If it is your first DUI, you may have a license suspension for a few months while you go through probation and the drug and alcohol education program.

If this is not your first DUI, you may have your license suspended for much longer, or you could have it taken from you permanently.

What Should You Do When Charged With a DUI in Durham, North Carolina?

If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you must take the following steps to protect yourself:

Step 1: Contact an Attorney Familiar With   DUI Law

Immediately following your DUI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Durham DUI attorney. Your attorney can help prepare for your arraignment and prepare a defense to vindicate yourself or reduce the sentencing.

Step 2: Learn About Your Local DUI Laws

Durham, North Carolina has unique laws for DUI or DWI charges. Your lawyer will work with you to help you better understand your state’s laws on driving while intoxicated. It is critical to understand what charges you face and the potential outcomes of your case. 

Step 3: Request a DMV Hearing

You or your attorney should request a hearing as soon as possible following your arrest. In Durham, North Carolina you only have so much time to ask for a DMV hearing to keep your license until your court appearance. If you do not request a hearing, prepare for a license suspension.

If your license is suspended after a DWI arrest in Durham, you have 10 days to request a hearing. Your written request must be sent to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV conducts a two-part hearing for DWI suspensions, with fees totaling $650. There are 4 DMV offices in Durham, and your hearing location will be assigned once it is scheduled.

Step 4: Prepare for Court Appearance

You and your attorney will prepare for your appearance and arraignment in Durham. If you plead “not guilty,” your DUI defense attorney represents you in court, and a judge and jury oversee the DUI law case.

Step 5: Receive Sentencing or Exoneration

You will either be “not guilty” of the charges brought against you and walk free, or you will receive sentencing for a guilty verdict.

Work with an Experienced Local DUI Lawyer in Durham, North Carolina

Should you ever find yourself charged with a DUI, you need to work with an experienced Durham lawyer who can stand up for you in court. You cannot clear your name of the charges or reduce the consequences without help. Your life and future depend on having great legal representation during your DUI case. Contact an attorney near you today. We can even help you connect with legal help across North Carolina state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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