North Carolina Law Blog

Do these things if you’re pulled over for suspicion of DWI

Police officers are well trained at spotting individuals who are under the influence of alcohol, as it allows them to keep dangerous drivers off the road. If you're pulled over for suspicion of DWI, the steps you take will go a long way in determining what happens next.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Pull to safety as quickly as possible: Once you're sure the officer is after you, put on your hazard lights, slow down and move to the side of the road or a parking lot.
  • Maintain a high level of politeness: There's no benefit of being rude or disrespectful to the officer, even if you're 100 percent sober. Keep calm, remain polite and do whatever you can to move through the conversation in an efficient manner.
  • Don't say too much: Think long and hard before you answer a question or share too much information with the officer. The 5th Amendment provides the right to remain silent, as opposed to incriminating yourself.
  • Don't concoct a story: Telling the officer you only had one drink six hours ago won't do you any good. Even if it's true, they won't believe it. You're best off sticking with the facts, as most officers have heard every story in the book.
  • Keep your cool if you're put under arrest: You may not see it coming, but if the officer puts you under arrest you should remain quiet and follow procedure. Fighting back, verbally and/or in a physical manner, increases the risk of additional criminal charges, such as resisting arrest.

Put together an estate plan for peace of mind

As you get older, the number of assets you retain may grow and your family may, too. Everything may be falling into place, and you feel that you have all that you need.

Now, imagine that you were to suddenly pass away or become impaired. How would you want to be cared for? How would you want to divide your assets among your family members?

Protecting finances before the impact of a divorce

When people are questioning whether or not to divorce their spouse in North Carolina, their immediate efforts to gain some control over their financial situation is imperative to their ability to reduce the impact of their divorce on the stability of their finances. This type of control does not mean one person trying to take over, but rather each individual's recognition of their financial standing and individual ways they can prepare for the consequences that divorce will create for their financial situation. 

One way that people can prepare to get divorced is by making a detailed list of all of the financial assets they have and are currently sharing with their spouse. This cumulative list should include information about debts, income, taxes, assets and liabilities. If possible, in situations where communication is still an option, couples should establish a decided upon date for their separation. This date will play a critical role in financial decisions that will need to be made in the coming months.

Common DWI defense tactics

Facing a DWI charge is frightening for drivers in North Carolina. With a conviction, there are financial penalties, potential jail time, license suspension and possible vehicle seizure. A conviction may also affect one's career and family life, so having a strong defense is important.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety outlines the consequences for those who face a DWI, and it may fall under a misdemeanor or felony charge. For misdemeanors, there are five levels. For the least serious level, a driver faces jail time of at least 24 hours as well as a fine up to $200. At the highest level, penalties include a minimum of 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 and a substance abuse assessment.

Revisiting your estate plan amid divorce

Like many other North Carolina residents, you may have worked on creating an estate plan once you married, and you may have decided to feature your spouse prominently in those future plans. At Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence & Starling, we understand that your estate plan may require updating once you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways, and we have assisted many clients as they navigate this and many other divorce-related issues.

Per Forbes, revisiting your estate plan periodically is a good idea under any circumstances, but you may find it especially necessary to do so once the end of your marriage is in sight. While your divorce is in the works, your spouse will typically have certain rights and legal obligations, and he or she will likely still have the ability to have control over your affairs during this period if you pass away or become incapacitated.

Creating employment contracts that protect your business

The staff that you hire at your business can effectively make or break your company. They will be the public face of your business in many situations, and your staff will perform critical functions that will directly relate to the quality of the products or services you offer.

Being an employer in North Carolina means that you have obligations to your staff. You must comply with state and federal regulations regarding pay wages and safety, and you also need to make sure that you comply with all laws about discrimination and other aspects of employment.

Who gets the personal injury settlement in divorce?

Divorce and injury, unfortunately, are sometimes linked. If you have ever been involved in a situation like this, or if you have witnessed one, then you know that injuries, loss of employment and reduced income often put a strain on a marriage. 

Injuries in North Carolina could also add additional strain to the process of divorce, namely by raising the question of who is entitled to workers' compensation payments or personal injury settlements during property division. Please read on for a brief discussion of this topic.

Parenting agreements and court approval

As you approach divorce, one of your primary goals is to create a parenting agreement to keep you and your ex-spouse on the same page in the future. With this, it's easier to provide your children with the stability they deserve, despite the fact that there is a lot changing around them.

When creating a parenting agreement, you'll address a variety of questions. These five are among the most common:

  • Where will your children live?
  • Which parent will have legal custody of the children? Will you share this duty?
  • What type of visitation schedule makes the most sense for the non-custodial parent?
  • How will you approach contact with extended family in the future?
  • What system will you implement to handle disputes in the future?

Staying focused while driving means eliminating distractions

When people sit behind the driver's seat and prepare to operate their vehicle in North Carolina, they undertake the responsibility of being attentive, responsible and respectful so that they can protect themselves, their passengers and other motorists on the road. Unfortunately, there are plenty of distractions to withdraw from a person's ability to be vigilant. If not managed appropriately, these distractions can be incredibly dangerous and life-altering. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anything considered to be a distraction for people while they are driving can usually be lumped into one of three categories. These include the following:

  • Cognitive: This includes when people are experiencing emotional turmoil and due to mental instability or strong emotion, are unable to place adequate focus on driving. 
  • Visual: This includes anything that takes people's eyes off of the road including texting, manipulating a GPS device, reaching for an item on the floor or tending to children in the backseat. 
  • Manual: This includes any type of distraction that requires people to take their hands off of the steering wheel including eating, blowing their nose, changing a CD or using a cellphone.  

Parents with special needs children may need to create a trust

Most parents try to do the right thing for their children when creating an estate plan. Providing for the security and well-being of loved ones is a primary motivator for people creating their own wills. When a member of your family has special needs, however, standard estate planning strategies that rely mostly on a last will may not be adequate for your family's unique needs.

For example, a standard inheritance given to a family member with a condition that impacts their cognitive acuity could wind up wasted on frivolous spending instead of providing years of security. Even if you trust your special needs family member to handle the money or assets you leave them responsibly, receiving those assets in a lump-sum inheritance could keep them from receiving any state benefits in the future, such as Medicaid.

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