A Leading, Award-Winning Law Firm In North Carolina

Providing Strong Defense And Representation

Frequently Asked Questions About North Carolina DWIs

In North Carolina, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers is .08%. So, if you are found operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). These are the questions our attorney hears most often:

What constitutes a DWI in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a DWI (Driving While Impaired) charge can be preferred against you if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) Level: If your blood alcohol concentration level is 0.08% or higher, you can be charged with a DWI.
  • Impairment by drugs or alcohol: Even if your BAC level is below 0.08%, you can still be charged with a DWI if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol to the extent that it affects your ability to drive safely.
  • Underage drinking: For drivers under the age of 21, North Carolina has a “zero tolerance” policy. This means that any detectable amount of alcohol in the system can result in a DWI charge.
  • Commercial drivers: Commercial drivers can be charged with a DWI if their BAC level is 0.04% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle.
  • Gross impairment: Even without a specific BAC level, if your ability to drive is significantly impaired due to alcohol or drugs, you can still face DWI charges.

A good defense lawyer can help evaluate the circumstances surrounding your DWI charge, gather evidence, challenge the prosecution’s case and advocate on your behalf in court.

What are the penalties for a first-time DWI offense in North Carolina?

If you are convicted of a DWI for the first time in North Carolina, penalties may include:

  • Fines: You may face fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the circumstances of your case.
  • License suspension: Your driver’s license may be suspended for a period determined by the court, typically ranging from one to two years.
  • Jail time: While jail time is not mandatory for a first-time DWI offense in North Carolina, depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face imprisonment for up to 24 hours.
  • Mandatory education programs: In North Carolina, individuals convicted of a DWI may be required to complete a substance abuse assessment and attend a substance abuse treatment program at their own expense.

It’s important to note that these penalties are not set in stone and can vary based on factors such as prior criminal history, aggravating or mitigating circumstances and the discretion of the judge overseeing the case.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test if I’m pulled over, and what are the consequences of refusal?

Yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer or blood test in North Carolina. However, there are consequences for refusal.

Refusing a chemical test can lead to immediate consequences, such as automatically suspending your driver’s license for one year for a first-time refusal. Also, refusal can be used against you in court, which may result in harsher penalties if you are convicted of DWI.

How long will a DWI conviction stay on my record in North Carolina?

A DWI conviction will stay on your record permanently. A DWI conviction in North Carolina remains indefinitely on your record and cannot be expunged.

Will I lose my driver’s license after a DWI conviction, and for how long?

Yes, you will likely lose your driver’s license after a DWI conviction in North Carolina. The length of the license suspension will depend on factors, including whether it is your first offense and if aggravating factors are present.

A first-time DWI conviction can result in a license suspension of one year.

What is “Limited Driving Privilege” in North Carolina, and how can I obtain it?

Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) is a restricted license that allows those convicted of DWI to drive under certain circumstances, such as for work, school or medical appointments.

To obtain an LDP in North Carolina, you must petition the court and meet specific eligibility requirements, including completing a substance abuse assessment and treatment if the court requires. The court will determine your LDP’s terms and conditions based on your circumstances.

Get Robust Defense For Your DWI

To learn more about DWI in North Carolina, call Sullivan Law at 910-250-9289 today or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.