According to North Carolina’s Department of Transportation, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and in 1 in 3 of those accidents alcohol is involved. As a Louisburg, NC based lawyer, I get a lot of questions about what do do with a DWI. People are wondering:
- What is it exactly?
- What are my next steps?
- What does this mean for the rest of my life?
To help with this, I’ve compiled this guide to help you answer some of the biggest questions that come with getting a DWI and how to move forward.
What is a DWI?
North Carolina’s Safe Roads Act of 1983 did away with all of the state’s previous drug- and alcohol-related driving laws and put everything under a single offense―driving while impaired, or DWI.
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the most common way NC determines whether you’re legally impaired.
DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. Drivers are guilty of driving impaired if:
- Their alcohol concentration (BAC) meets or exceeds 0.08
- They are under the influence of, or affected by, alcohol and/or other drugs.
In addition, for commercial drivers (CDL) you could get a DWI with 0.04% and for those younger than 21, it could happen with any alcohol concentration.
The state also looks at whether your physical or mental fitness is provably impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. If you have a prior DWI conviction and license reinstatement, you can’t drive with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. Although, this can depend on your driving record and whether you were charged and convicted after July, 1, 2001.
What Does North Carolina Law Say About It?
In order to fully understand DWI, you need to understand the law. In the case of a DWI, North Carolina:
- Imposes a $10,000 maximum fine for DWI offenses.
- Has a“zero tolerance” for underage drinkers and drivers of commercial vehicles, school buses and day care vehicles.
- Imposes a 30-day administrative driver license revocation for persons who refuse to take the alcohol or drug test requested by an officer, or who have a 0.08 BAC or 0.01 BAC if underage
- Allows vehicle seizure and forfeiture for a driver who is impaired and whose license is revoked for DWI, or who is impaired and has no license and no insurance.
If It’s My First Conviction, what happens?
It varies depending on the number of DWI convictions you’ve had. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Mandatory revocation of your driver license for one year. Once your driver license is restored, your legal alcohol concentration will be lowered to 0.04 for three years.
- Minimum punishment is a fine up to $200 and a minimum 24 hours imprisonment, 24 hours community service, or any combination of these.
- Maximum punishment is a fine up to $4,000 and imprisonment of no less than 30 days or more than 24 months.
If you are convicted with a level of 0.15 or higher, all driving privileges suspended immediately for 45 days. At the end of the 45 days, you can be issued a limited driving privilege, which will only allow you to drive to and from your place of employment, school, and any court-ordered treatment or substance abuse education. For one year you also will be required to have an ignition-interlock system installed in your vehicle at your own expense. This device tests your breath for alcohol before allowing you to start your car and while you are driving.
Beyond a first conviction, you could lose your license for 4 years and even cause you to lose your vehicle. For more information on DWI’s, check out this handy pamphlet.
What Should You Do Now?
If you’re facing a DWI, it’s a great idea to get some advice from a lawyer. In difficult situations like this, it’s important to have an ally who offers encouragement and help.Don’t try to solve your legal issues on your own; get the help of our experts. For knowledgeable, professional, and assertive legal assistance, trust the dedicated Louisburg lawyer at Batton Law. He is always on your side, no matter the legal issue at hand. Contact us to see what we can learn.
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