Driving While Under the Influence of an Impairing Substance

by | Mar 21, 2018 | Blog Posts, DWI, NC Criminal Defense

DWI – Impairing Substances under the influence of an impairing substance

When most people think of DWI, they think of alcohol. It is true that a BAC concentration of .08 or greater is the most common way in which North Carolina charges a person with DWI. However, there are other ways in which a person can be charged with DWI in North Carolina. In addition to having a BAC of .08 or greater a person can be charged with DWI if they drive in one of the following ways:

  • With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in C.G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.
    • For example, heroin or peyote.
  • While under the influence of an impairing substance, meaning:
    • The DWI suspect must be impaired AND,
    • The impairment must be caused by an impairing substance.

What is an impairing substance with regard to DWI?

Generally, the following substances are considered impairing substances:

  • Alcohol;
  • A controlled substance under Chapter 90;
  • Any drug or psychoactive substance capable of impairing a person’s physical or mental faculties; or
  • Any combination of these substances.

This can include prescription medications, even if they are lawfully prescribed. It can also include over the counter medications. The deciding factor in determining what is considered an “impairing substance” for purposes of DWI charges in NC is the affect that the substance has on the body.

A person is under the influence of an impairing substance when:

  • That person’s physical faculties are appreciably impaired
  • That person’s mental faculties are appreciably impaired
  • That person’s physical and mental faculties are both appreciably impaired

The state must provide evidence of an impairing substance. It does not, however, have to prove a specific substance.

How does the state provide evidence that someone was under the influence of an impairing substance? Some ways include:

  • Chemical analysis combined with testimony from the chemical analyst
  • Chemical analysis combined with expert testimony
  • Opinion testimony from an experienced officer that testifies that, based on his experience, he believed the DWI defendant to be under the influence of some drug.
  • Defendant’s admission combined with officer testimony:
    • For example, an experienced officer testifies that the DWI defendant appeared to be under the influence of a drug and that the defendant told the officer that the defendant had taken some pain medication.

If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI in North or South Carolina, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. The attorneys at Gilles Law provide free consultations for DWI. Call today: 980-272-8438.

DISCLAIMER – This forum is intended for general questions and comments about the particular law or topic. Comments are public and are not protected by confidentiality or attorney-client privilege; therefore, they can be used against you in court. Please refrain from revealing your identify or specifics about any actual criminal case. No attorney-client relationship is created in this forum.

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