When it comes to drunk driving laws in the state of North Carolina, the penalties of getting caught driving while intoxicated can be pretty serious. According to the state’s legislation, a DWI arrest is based off the driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) percentage, and a couple other factors:
- .08% BAC for drivers over 21
- .04% BAC for drivers over 21 and operating a commercial vehicle
- .04% BAC for drivers over 21 who have received a previous DWI conviction after July 1, 2001
- Any trace of alcohol for drivers under 21
Although the punishments for a drunk driving conviction definitely depend on the driver’s BAC level, age, and previous DWI convictions, there are a few other things that factor into the consequences of a DWI conviction. For example,
- Refusing a Chemical Test: Like every other state, North Carolina has something called an Implied Consent Law. This law means that when you’re issued a driver’s license, you automatically agree to take a chemical test to determine your BAC level if a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence. There are three types of chemical tests (breathalyzer, urine, and blood draw) and you can request which test you’d prefer to have. If you refuse to take any test, you’ll still be required to take one — but your license will be suspended immediately, and could extend for months even if you aren’t found guilty.
- Consumption of Drugs: Although it’s a bit more difficult for officers to test for drug consumption on the roadside, if you’re arrested and receive positive tests for the consumption of certain drugs, you’ll likely have stiffer penalties and mandatory substance abuse classes. This applies to both illegal and legal drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) that may affect your ability to drive.
- Status of License and Driving Record: Past DWI convictions are sure to make another DWI conviction worse, but it’s important to realize that the court will look at your entire past driving record when determining a reasonable punishment. If you’re caught drunk driving with a suspended license, for example, the court has the power to take your vehicle away.
So now it’s your turn to share — did we forget any important details that factor into a DWI charge and punishment in North Carolina? Be sure to share any of your own facts or questions with us in the comments section!