Like many other states in the nation, North Carolina has been cracking down on drunk drivers in recent years. In 2013, approximately 33% of North Carolina’s traffic fatalities involved drunk drivers, and many state officials and citizens agree that this number is far too high. In an ongoing effort to try to lower the number of impairment-related deaths and accidents on the road, two new bills have recently been passed in the North Carolina House of Representatives that seek to toughen the state’s drunk driving laws.
Under current North Carolina law, a person can incur a “habitual drunk driving” charge if he or she has been charged with a DWI four times within 10 years. Additionally, according to a separate law, drivers who have been convicted of a DWI in North Carolina are legally permitted to drive with a blood alcohol content of up to .04 percent.
The two new proposals seek to change these laws. If the proposals pass, the number of citations needed for a habitual drunk driving charge would drop from four to three, and a person who has recently been convicted of a DWI would not be permitted to drive with any alcohol in his or her system at all.
North Carolina’s Drinking and Driving Laws
These proposed changes are far from a complete overhaul of North Carolina’s current laws, but they do seek to make things a bit more strict. Sometimes, that little bit extra can make a huge difference in saving lives.
It is important to note that these proposals would not make any changes to North Carolina’s DUI penalties—they would simply make those penalties easier to incur. Some of North Carolina’s consequences for first-time DUI convictions include:
- Jail time of anywhere from 24 hours to 24 months
- Fines from $100 to $2,000
- License revocation for at least one year
- Up to 24 hours of community service
- A mandatory DWI assessment
- The installation of an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for up to one year
These penalties get more dramatic with each additional offense. Following a second DUI conviction, you could be required to pay up to $2,000, and you might have to serve up to one year in jail; following a fourth DUI conviction, you could be required to serve up to three years in jail and your license may be revoked for life; and a habitual drunk driving charge is a felony that comes with a minimum sentence of one year in jail, mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse program, and more.
Any DUI conviction—whether it’s your first or your fourth—can have a significant and far-reaching impact. A conviction could not only result in jail time and set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it can tarnish your permanent record and may result in a nasty and difficult-to-shake stigma.
Avoid DUI Consequences by Avoiding DUI Convictions
The best way to avoid these consequences is to avoid a conviction all together. A knowledgeable attorney can help you do this.
Even if these new measures pass and North Carolina’s DUI laws become stricter, an experienced attorney may be able to help you build a strong defense so that you can keep your name and your record clear. To find out how you can fight back against DUI charges, contact the law offices of Schlosser & Pritchett today.
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.