It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. That is why North Carolina law upholds Driving While Impaired (DWI) as a very serious offense. If charged with a DWI, then you face a prosecution ready and willing to punish you to the full extent of the law. North Carolina DWI laws can drain your money, severely limit or take away your freedom, and also cripple your reputation. All 50 states have their definition of what constitutes a DWI or DUI (Driving under the Influence). However, in North Carolina, the 1983 Safe Roads Act rolled all of the state’s previous drug and alcohol-related driving laws into one offense. North Carolina does not differentiate between DUI and DWI. Therefore, punishment for violating the law is not easily mitigated without an experienced attorney representing you.
How Does the North Carolina Establish a DWI Violation?
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is, usually, how a police officer establishes if you are legally impaired. In some states, you have the right to deny a blood or breath test if an officer has probable cause to suspect a DWI. However, in North Carolina, we have an “implied consent” law. This law states that, by driving on North Carolina roads, you are giving consent to any test if you are arrested for being legally impaired. Once arrested, you cannot refuse to take a test without penalty.
The specific levels of DWI-eligible BAC are:
- Drivers Younger than 21: Any alcohol concentration
- Drivers 21 Years Old or Older: 0.08%
- Commercial Drivers (CDL): 0.04%
- Certain drivers with a Prior DWI: 0.04%
BAC is not an exact science. The number of alcoholic beverages that puts you over the legal limit depends on physiological factors such as height and body weight. Whether or not you consume a meal with alcohol also affects your BAC level. Such factors are important to keep in mind to prevent being charged. However, if you are charged, then the prosecution will closely examine whether alcohol consumption impaired your mental and physical health at the time you drove a vehicle.
North Carolina DWI laws also forbid:
- Being in possession of an open container of alcohol in the vehicle if the driver is or has been consuming it.
- Having alcohol in any area inside a commercial motor vehicle.
- Helping a minor obtain alcohol whether through buying or gifting them alcohol or lending a minor an ID to facilitate a purchase.
Understand DWI Penalties in Greensboro
North Carolina DWI penalties are severe and, therefore, they are serious business. Based on the number of offenses, your age, and type of license, anyone charged faces penalties such as:
- Heavy fines, which include court costs and lawyer fees.
- Suspension or revocation of your license
- Potential or mandatory jail time.
- Community service.
- Increased auto insurance rates.
Depending on your situation, the judge may also order you to attend driver safety school or a substance abuse program. A DWI charge in North Carolina is extremely serious. If faced with one, you should hire an experienced attorney to represent you. An attorney can negotiate your penalties, especially in regard to jail time. You should never drink and drive. However, if you or someone you know is charged with a DWI, it is essential to understand the accused’s rights and how an attorney can help.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.