North Carolina DWI Laws: The Basics

Under North Carolina law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 percent or above. It is also against the law to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of impairing drugs, whether legal or illegal. Doing either of these things can result in arrest and conviction for driving while impaired, also known as DWI.

What to Expect if You are Stopped for DWI

If the police pull you over because they suspect you of DWI, the first thing they are likely to do is ask to see your driver's license and vehicle registration card. Next, they may ask you to exit your vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. This allows officers to observe your coordination by having you perform tasks like touching your finger to your nose or walking along a straight line.

You may also be asked to take a preliminary breath test, which is sometimes referred to as a mini-breathalyzer. The breath test provides officers with a rough reading of your BAC. Depending on the results, you can be arrested and taken into custody for further BAC testing. This can involve a formal breathalyzer test or a blood test, or both.

Penalties for DWI in North Carolina

If you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, you could be fined up to $4,000 and sentenced to as much as 59 months in prison, depending on the severity of the offense and your number of prior convictions. Even a first-time offense could lead to as much as two years in prison.

If convicted, you will also have your driver's license revoked for a minimum of one year and may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle at your own expense. This device requires you to provide a breath sample before driving and will prevent your car from starting if it detects alcohol.

Being charged with DWI is a serious matter with potentially severe consequences. If you have been arrested for DWI in North Carolina, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.