DWI Lawyer in Charlotte, NC

DWI North Carolina: BOOZE IT & LOSE IT

What is a ‘DWI’?

Drunk driving or “driving while impaired” (DWI) in North Carolina is a serious offense that not only can land you in jail but also have other serious consequences.

Drivers can be found guilty of DWI if the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reaches or exceeds 0.08% OR if the driver is under the influence of or affected by alcohol and/or other drugs while driving.

§ 20-138.1. Impaired driving.

(a) Offense. - A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:
(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or
(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person's alcohol concentration; or
(3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine. Examples of Schedule I controlled substances include Heroin, Ecstasy, Peyote, GHB, and Methaqualone ("Quaaludes").
(a1) A person who has submitted to a chemical analysis of a blood sample, pursuant to G.S. 20-139.1(d), may use the result in rebuttal as evidence that the person did not have, at a relevant time after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
(b) Defense Precluded. - The fact that a person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense to a charge under this section.
(b1) Defense Allowed. - Nothing in this section shall preclude a person from asserting that a chemical analysis result is inadmissible pursuant to G.S. 20-139.1(b2).
(c) Pleading. - In any prosecution for impaired driving, the pleading is sufficient if it states the time and place of the alleged offense in the usual form and charges that the defendant drove a vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area while subject to an impairing substance.
(d) Sentencing Hearing and Punishment. - Impaired driving as defined in this section is a misdemeanor. Upon conviction of a defendant of impaired driving, the presiding judge shall hold a sentencing hearing and impose punishment in accordance with G.S. 20-179.
(e) Exception. - Notwithstanding the definition of "vehicle" pursuant to G.S. 20-4.01(49), for purposes of this section the word "vehicle" does not include a horse. (1983, c. 435, s. 24; 1989, c. 711, s. 2; 1993, c. 285, s. 1; 2006-253, s. 9.)

Reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle

In order to stop a driver, police must have reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver is driving while impaired or committing another crime, such as speeding, that officer can stop the vehicle to investigate.
The following are examples of valid reasons that an officer may stop a vehicle:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign
  • Not signaling
  • Reckless driving
  • Expired tags
  • Texting while driving
  • Driving while impaired

What happens if you are stopped on suspicion of DWI?

  • You may be required to display your driver's license and registration card
  • You may be required to get out of your vehicle
  • You may be required to perform a preliminary sobriety test and a preliminary breath test
  • You could be arrested, searched, handcuffed, restrained in a patrol vehicle and transported to a
  • law enforcement facility for a breath or blood test, or both
  • If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, you could lose your driver license for one year
  • If test results are 0.08 or higher at the time you are tested, your driver's license will be revoked immediately for at least 30 days.

According to the North Carolina Department of Safety:

There are five levels of misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated. Level I is the most serious and Level V is the least.
Level V
Punishable by a fine up to $200 and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.
Level IV
Punishable by a fine up to $500 and a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 48 hours in jail, perform 48 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 60 days.
Level III
Punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of six months. A judge can suspend the sentence only upon completion that the driver spend at least 72 hours in jail, perform 72 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 90 days.
Level II
Punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum of one year. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.
Level I
Punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of two years. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.

Level I and II drivers are repeat offenders, persons whose license are revoked, impaired drivers, impaired drivers who are transporting young children and impaired drivers who hurt someone in a crash. Impaired drivers must complete a substance abuse assessment and comply with any recommended treatment as a condition for having their driver’s license restored at the end of the revocation period.

Life happens and Gilles Law is here to help! We may be able to help you keep your license and minimize or avoid jail time. Contact Attorney Gilles Law at (980)272-8438 for any DWI related charges.