Katy Strait Chavez, Attorney-at-Law

Traffic & DWI Attorney

Traffic Tickets
I can handle your traffic tickets received in Wake County.  I can appear on your minor infraction such as failing to stop at a red light or most speeding tickets for $80, and you won't need to come to court.  I can help protect your insurance rates.  If you mail in your ticket with the payment, you are pleading guilty, and your insurance will definitely go up.  The minimum increase in insurance premium would be a 25% each year for three years.  If I handle your ticket, you will only pay $190 costs of court and $80 for my fee, and possibly save hundreds of dollars.  Plus you won't need to appear.  You should know that a speeding ticket for at least 15 mph over the speed limit would cause a license revocation if not negotiated down.  If you are curious about exactly how your ticket would affect your insurance- call me for a free consultation.

If you have a speeding ticket, then I can get the speed reduced.  In Wake County we can now get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation of Improper Equipment.  This means no points for your insurance or your license ever for that charge.   If you already don't qualify for Improper Equipment, I may ask for a "PJC".  If you got your ticket as a result of an accident, for example for going through a red light, then I can get a letter from your insurance company that shows that the damages have been paid, and you will not need to pay the ticket (it can be dismissed).  If you got a ticket for not having a drivers license, I can ask that the ticket be dismissed if you get your license before the court date. 

If you made the mistake of not hiring an attorney on a prior ticket, and your insurance has now gone up, I may still be able to help you.  We can file a motion to reopen the case and ask for a reduction, and then your insurance rates should go down again.

DWLR
Driving While License Revoked can be a very serious charge in North Carolina.  In the past it could have carried a sentence of one year in prison.  Today you can still receive 4 months of jail if you have a bad record.  But often there are many things we can do to help the situation.  This charge is probably one of the traffic charges where it is most important to hire an attorney, or at least consult with one.  This is because the rules are very complicated and nobody within the system can give you much advice about how to start making the situation better.  Some people have a simple case- they are revoked because they never paid an old traffic ticket.  All they need to do is pay the old ticket and they can get their license back.  But that will not be sufficient to dismiss the charge.  Further, a guilty verdict on any type of moving violation committed while revoked will cause a new revocation.  The third time this happens the revocation will be permanent.  Some cases are more complicated because people have tried to take care of the matter without an attorney, and have already caused new revocations.  Often people spend far more money trying to fix their record on their own than they would spend if they hired me to help.  The FTA fee on old charges is $200 for EACH charge, in addition to court costs and fines.  This means resolving a few old charges can add up to a thousand dollars or more.  I can often resolve all of the cases for less.

DWI
I can handle your charge of DWI.  I will order reports of the officers notes, the notes of the chemical analyst that performed the breath test, I will interview the officer, and develop a trial strategy.  Many times it is possible to fight the charge on legal grounds.  For example, perhaps the police officer did not have sufficient cause to stop you in the first place, or he did not gather enough evidence before arresting you.

Getting a Driver's License
Sometimes there are problems getting a license in the first place.  Perhaps you are having difficulty satisfying the new ID requirements, or maybe you have a ticket you haven't taken care of, or maybe you have dropped out of high school.  I can help you resolve these problems and get you on track to getting a drivers license.  One important thing to understand is that you cannot get a valid ID or driver's license anywhere else besides the Division of Motor Vehicles.  If a store sold you an ID, you should never try to present it to a police officer, no matter how much you paid, and no matter how much ID you needed to show in order to get it.  It is not valid, and it can get you arrested if you try to use it.

FAQs

DWLR
1. Q.Can I get a limited driving privilege if my license is revoked?
A. Maybe.  There are limited privileges available for some types of revocations. However, it may also be possible to take care of the outstanding charges, or re-open old charges, or ask for a special hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your license back.

2. Q. If I pay all my old tickets, will I be able to get my license back?
A.  Probably not.  Often paying old tickets causes more problems than it solves.  If any of those tickets were received while you were revoked for even older tickets, than you will cause new revocations that may last a long time.  It is important to ask an attorney what will happen if you pay old tickets.

3. Q.  If I never had a license, how can I be charged with "Driving While License Revoked"?
A.  Not getting a license is not a way of avoiding a revocation of your driving privilege.  Driving While Revoked is a much more serious crime than driving without a license.  A person who has never had a license that drives can be charged with No Operators License, which carries points and fine, but no jail time or license revocation.  However if someone without a license gets a ticket, and they do not take care of it, they will become revoked, and if they drive while they are revoked they can go to jail and be subject to further revocation.

4. Q.  If I was revoked for DWI more than a year ago, why is my license still revoked? 
A.  Many people fail to complete the required alcohol treatment before 12 months after their conviction.  When this happens the license will remain revoked until the treatment is completed. There is no Limited Driving Privilege for this revocation, even if you had one for the first 12 months.  It can also take 2 months or more after completing treatment before it is processed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

5. Q. What happens at a hearing to request early restoration of my license?
A. After serving part of your revocation you may ask for a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  A hearing officer will ask you questions to determine if she will agree to restore your license early.  You will be sworn in, and you will be asked questions to determine if she believes that you have not been driving while you were revoked.  You may also have witnesses.  If you have prior charges of Driving While Impaired, you will have to convince the hearing officer that you will never drive after drinking again.

DWI
1. Q. What is the punishment for Driving While Impaired?
A. There are five levels of punishment, but  unless you have a prior conviction, had a child in the car, or were involved in an accident, then you will likely be given Level Three, Four, or Five.  Those levels of punishment involve a fine, a license revocation, and the requirement of completing recommended alcohol treatment.  There will also be a suspended jail sentence. That means that you don't have to go to jail, but if you commit another crime in the following 12 months, then your sentence might be activated and you can go to jail for 60 to 120 days.

If you had a child in the car, or there was a serious accident, or you have a prior conviction for Driving While Impaired than you will be sentenced as a Level One or Level Two.  Both of these levels have mandatory active jail sentences.  This means you  WILL need to go to jail or to an inpatient alcohol treatment program.  The judge can send you to prison for up to two years depending on the circumstance.

In addition to the punishment of the court there are other important consequences.  For most people the most important consequence is that your insurance *will* go up by 400% or more.  This means a premium of nearly $2,000. per year or more.  Also, it is a criminal conviction which can affect employment, applications for housing, or immigration benefits.  Further, a conviction for Driving While Impaired will drastically affect the consequences of being stopped for Driving While Impaired in the future.  If you have a conviction, and you are stopped by an officer for Driving While Impaired while you are still revoked, the police will take your car from you, and you WILL go to jail if you are convicted.

2. Q What can I do to lessen my sentence?
There are several factors that are considered to determine your sentence, but the only one you can really affect AFTER the date of the offense is to go to an alcohol treatment facility and get an evaluation.  Other factors considered are whether or not there was an accident, whether the alcohol reading was high or low, whether you have a good or poor driving record, and whether or not your driving was unsafe.

3. Q. What do I do to get a Limited Driving Privilege?
If you had a valid license at the time of the offense you may be able to get a limited privilege 10 days after the offense as well as after any conviction.  You will need to have completed your alcohol assessment and be currently insured.  If you need to drive for your job beyond the hours of 6am to 8pm, Monday-Friday, you will need a letter from your employer.

4.  Q. Do I have to get an alcohol evaluation before going to court?
You don't have to, but if you do then you may lower your punishment level, and you may avoid supervised probation.  You will need to do one if you are found guilty, and it is definitely worth doing it beforehand.

5. Q. Do I have to begin my treatment before going to court?
Beginning your treatment is not necessary before disposing of the case.  Also, you may be found not guilty, in which case you will not need to complete the classes.

6. Q. Are all alcohol schools the same?
No.  The cost for the evaluation is $100., and the criteria and curriculum are regulated by the state.  But schools may charge different rates as they choose for their classes.  You may want to shop around.

7.  Q. If it is true that I was drinking and driving, is there any point to fighting the charge?
Yes.  There are many reasons that you can still win the case.  For example, it is possible that we can show the court that it should not use the result of the Intoxylizer machine.  It may be possible that the officer did not have the right to stop you in the first place.  It is possible that even though you had been drinking, you still were not impaired to drive.  If you want to discuss your case with me, please email me, and we can go over some issues that you might have.

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