We all like to have a good time on July Fourth. For a lot of people, the celebration includes alcohol or other substances. Unfortunately, that can lead to DWI or disorderly conduct charges. If you have been charged, don’t panic, but don’t go it alone – even if you have been charged with a misdemeanor.
Impaired driving is common in North Carolina
According to FBI arrest figures and other statistics, North Carolina ranked 7th in terms of the incidence of drunk driving in 2018. South Carolina was right behind us at 8th.
Impaired driving is a long-standing problem in our community, and that is especially true around the Fourth of July. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that the week leading up to July Fourth is among the deadliest week for drunk driving all year.
Combine that with the fact that about 29% of all drunk driving fatalities occur in the summertime, and that 62% of those fatalities occur on weekends. Since the Fourth was on a weekend this year, it was bound to be more active for impaired driving than the average year.
According to moneygeek.com, on Independence Day the risk of a drunk driving accident is 100% greater than on the average day, and the week leading up to it is the deadliest all year.
All that activity has the full attention of law enforcement. Police head out in force around Independence Day – and all summer long. There are more sobriety checkpoints, more officers, and targeted enforcement.
So, it’s not surprising if you were arrested for DWI in Wilmington or Charlotte this year. Nevertheless, it can be a stressful, frightening experience, especially if you’ve never been in trouble with the law before.
In North Carolina, impaired driving can be charged as any level of misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances and any license revocation or past convictions. Habitual offenders can be charged with a felony.
Disorderly conduct is nearly as common
Drinking and drug use tend to reduce your inhibitions, and that gets a lot of people in trouble for fighting. Under North Carolina law, there are a variety of reasons you can get arrested for disorderly conduct, but the most common ways are fighting and provoking a fight.
By law, you can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor if you engage in fighting or violent conduct, or in conduct creating a threat of imminent fighting or other violence. The same charges apply if you make or use any utterance, gesture, display or abusive language that is intended and is plainly likely to provoke a violent response and breach the peace.
A Class 2 misdemeanor may not sound like a big deal, but it could get you 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, if you have prior convictions.
Misdemeanor convictions can be a big deal
Even though a DWI or a fight will most likely result in a misdemeanor charge, you should be aware that there can be long-term consequences if you are convicted.
- You could spend time in jail. That could cost you your job and threaten your housing.
- You could pay a large fine and lose your driving privileges. That could threaten your job and your family’s savings.
- Depending on the situation, you could lose your vehicle from the date of your arrest.
- After a DWI, your car insurance rates will skyrocket.
- Even a misdemeanor conviction will give you a criminal record. That could mean it will be harder to find housing, get a job, maintain your professional license, access education or take part in other parts of life.
Some people think misdemeanor charges aren’t worth fighting. On the contrary, fighting them is almost always worth the time and trouble.
If you were arrested around the July 4 holiday, don’t panic, but don’t give up. Talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer about your situation and your legal options.