North Dakota DUI / DWI Lawyers

Drinking and Driving Laws in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by any driver with a .08 percent or above blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The .08 percent limit is the standard benchmark across the United States for the "impaired" driver. North Carolina has lower limits for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers. Minors that are convicted for driving with any amount of drugs or alcohol in their system will have their drivers license suspended for one year.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in North Carolina? It is difficult to estimate with any certainty how many drinks it takes to reach the .08 percentage limit. There are calculators and charts that can be used as a reference, however these tools do not always consider some of the variables that contribute to a BAC score. There have been studies that have shown that a persons BAC score could go up as much as .05 percent for each drink consumed, but this isn't the case with every driver.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of North Carolina has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in North Carolina, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

What are the penalties for a DUI/DWI in North Carolina?

1st Offense 2nd offense 3rd Offense
Minimum Jail 24 hours (for level 5 offender) (however, if 3 aggravated factors are present -- Level 1A --  minimum of 12 months) 4 days jail (If 3 aggravated factors are present -- Level 1A --  minimum of 12 months.) 14-30 days jail (up to two years) (If 3 aggravated factors are present -- Level 1A --  minimum of 12 months.)
Fines and Penalties $200 (for level 5 offendor) Ranges depending on level Ranges depending on level
License Suspension  60 days to 1 year 1 to 4 years (if previous DWI was within 3 years) 1 year to permanent (if last previous was within 5 years)
IID* Required None required Required If license restored, required for 7 years

First Offense DWI in North Carolina

  • A first offense typically results in an administrative license suspension of 30 days (with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days).
  • Refusals to submit result in a mandatory automatic license suspension; for a first offense refusal to submit in North Carolina, the suspension is for 1 year.
  • The reinstatement of a license is contingent upon completion of an alcohol/substance abuse assessment and awareness program with the possibility of an ignition interlock device installation upon reinstatement.

Criminal penalties vary widely, based on the courts' categorization of offenders' cases, again ranging from Level 1 to level 5. For most first offenders--save for the grossly aggravating factor of there being a minor child present in the vehicle at the time of arrest, or aggravating factor of BAC .15--North Carolina does not impose mandatory incarceration for first offenders, but the potential of incarceration ranges.

A judge can sentence a Level 5 offender to 1 to 60 days but might suspend such sentence in lieu of 24 hours community service. The incarceration sentence of any level 3 through 5 offense may be suspended if the offender participates in community service, if such service is approved by the court. A judge can sentence a Level 1A (three aggravating factors) first offender to between 12 and 36 months.

Fines also range widely, from $200 to $1000 for level 3 through 5 offenses. These fine amounts do not include costs incurred during the completion of a sentence or in the license reinstatement process.

Convictions in North Carolina can influence charging and sentencing in future DWI cases for a period of 7 years.

Second Offense DUI/DWI in North Carolina

There are 5 main sentencing levels (as shown above) when it comes to DUIs in North Carolina. Your level will be decided by a judge based on your driving record, your blood alcohol level, and whether there was a child in the car with you during your DUI stop, to name a few factors. The levels range from 1 to 5, with level 1 being the worst.

Jail time ranges from 7 days to 1 year, again depending on your assigned level. You may be offered probation or community service in order to reduce your jail time, but this is usually only when you have no aggravating factors in your DUI, and certainly not if your last offense was only 3 years ago.

  • 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 IA - Punishable by a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months. Triggered if three aggravating factors are present during impaired driving arrest.

Third Offense DUI/DWI in North Carolina

drivers can still be charged with a third DWI (North Carolina refers to DUI offenses as DWIs) even with a lower BAC. This typically occurs if the individual is showing signs of an obvious impairment either through their speech, actions or driving ability. The administrative and criminal penalties include:

If the three DWIs occurred within seven years apart and there are no other aggravating factors, the offense may be punishable bt a fine of up to $4,00 and minimum jail sentence of 30 days (up to a maximum of two years). In 2011, "Laura's Law" was passed and an impaired driver arrested for third time and with three aggravating factors present will be categorized as Level 1A offender and subject to a jail sentence of 12 to 36 months.

 

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