DUI or DWI: Which Is Worse?

You never thought it would happen to you until it does. You find yourself in handcuffs in the back of a police cruiser for a DUI or DWI. Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most frequent driving violations in North Carolina.

Impairment from alcohol contributes to 34% of all automobile fatalities in North Carolina. The state has experienced 485 alcohol-related fatalities in 2021. Drug use contributes to about 16% of car crashes.

When you find yourself in cuffs, you will likely be wondering about the difference between DUI and DWI. How do they determine which charge you receive? Learn everything you need to know about the law if this happens to you.

DUI or DWI—What’s the Difference?

When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI), the state of North Carolina makes no distinction between them. The state has a zero-tolerance policy for driving while impaired.

Prior to the enactment of the North Carolina Safe Roads Act of 1983 the state made a distinction between DWI vs DUI. Prior to that year, a DWI was a higher crime than a DUI.

The new law moved all alcohol and drug moving violations under the term of DWI. In any instance where a driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will receive a criminal charge of driving while impaired.

Determination of DWI

The level of alcohol in your blood to result in DWI charges depends on your age. Anyone over the legal drinking age of 21 years with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher will be put under arrest for DWI. If you are under 21 years of age and are found driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, you will be arrested for DWI.

If you have a prior DUI/DWI charge and are pulled over, you will receive DWI charges for having 0.04% of alcohol or more in your blood. This is also the maximum level allowable for commercial drivers.

Other DWI Offenses

In addition to having alcohol or drugs in your bloodstream, there are other acts that can result in your being charged with a DWI. This includes having an open container containing alcohol in your vehicle or having an open or closed container of alcohol on the passenger seat of a commercial vehicle. You will also receive a DWI charge if you are found guilty of helping a minor to obtain alcohol.

Field Sobriety Test

If an officer pulls you over for speeding, weaving in traffic, or reckless driving they may require you to participate in a field sobriety test. This test checks your physical and mental abilities by having you do things such as:

  • Walk a straight line
  • Stand on one leg
  • Speak clearly
  • Touch your nose, and more

After determining there is reason to believe you are under the influence of any type of substance, the officer may ask you to take a chemical test.

DUI Versus DWI Penalties

It doesn’t matter whether you call it a DUI or a DWI, the penalties for these charges in North Carolina are severe. The state has a 7-year lookback period, meaning every DWI you receive within a 7-year period increases penalty severity.

There are five levels of misdemeanor DWI in North Carolina. Judges make a determination on what level each driver falls into depending on several mitigating factors. These include:

  • BAC level
  • Driving record
  • Level of visible impairment
  • Voluntary submission or participating in assessment and treatment
  • DWI contributing to an accident
  • Prior DWI offenses
  • Speeding
  • Driving on a suspended or revoked license

The more factors the driver meets under the judge’s evaluation, the more severe the level of the criminal charges the driver receives.

The lowest charge is a level V DWI. A conviction includes penalties of 24 hours to 60 days in jail or 24 hours in jail and 24 hours of community service. It also includes up to $200 in fines and driver’s license revocation for between 30-365 days. The judge may also order a substance abuse assessment.

The most severe offense is Level I DWI, which includes 30 days to two years in jail, up to $4,000 in fines, and permanent license revocation. You must also complete a substance abuse assessment.

If you have three or more DWI convictions within a seven-year period, you will be charged with a felony DWI. You will receive the label of habitual offender. You will serve a minimum of one year in jail and complete a substance abuse program during your incarceration.

Ignition Interlock

If you receive a conviction with a BAC of 0.15% or higher or have two DWI convictions within a seven-year period you will be required to have an ignition interlock device to drive. Installation of this device on your steering wheel requires you to take a breathalyzer test prior to being able to start your vehicle. You will also take periodic breath tests while driving.

Failure to “blow” immediately upon notification is a violation. Violations of interlock device requirements result in the immediate removal of your driving privileges.

Impact on Auto Insurance

In addition to jail time, fines, and having a criminal record, picking up a DWI charge will impact your insurance rates. This is because there is an increase in risk when you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These risks cost the insurance company more in payment of claims by accident victims.

The average insurance increase in North Carolina following a DWI is $3,416. This is 68% higher than the average U.S. increase following a DUI.

The Bail Process

Within 48 hours of your arrest, a hearing will be held advising you of the criminal charges you face. During the hearing, the judge will determine the amount of bail necessary for your release from jail. The amount of bail depends on several factors including the seriousness of the crime and your prior criminal history.

Payment of your bail will depend on the judge’s specific orders. It may be by cash, secured bail bonds, unsecured bail bonds, or in some cases your own recognizance. When you do not have the funds to pay your bail in full, a bail bonds service will accept 15% of the total bond amount and front the remaining amount for you.

The bail bonds service pays the full amount of your bail directly to the court. Once paid you will be released from jail pending your appearance in court.

Because of the risk the bail bond service takes, an Indemnitor must sign agreeing to pay the full amount of your bail if you do not appear in court. This is because your failure to appear means the bail bond service must pay the full bail amount to the court.

Bail Bonds Sets You Free

When it comes to receiving a DUI or DWI, the initial result is the same. You are going to jail. When that happens make sure you have the name of an expert bail bondsman to help you obtain a quick release.

Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds is a team of professional bail bondsmen in Raleigh, North Carolina. We are available 24/7 at (800) 537-0645. We help your loved one by preparing all necessary paperwork to obtain your freedom pending trial.

To help make the process easy, we offer a variety of payment plans and free consultations. Don’t hesitate, call us today to find an agent near you.

What to Do If You’ve Been Charged With a DUI in North Carolina

Charged with a DUI in North Carolina?

Is this your first time?

Then you are at the right place. The consequences of a DUI conviction extend beyond the arrest date. North Carolina’s DWI law prohibits motorists from driving while intoxicated or impaired.

Depending on the charge, your vehicle will be withheld for ten days after the arrest. You may also face other DUI penalties such as jail term (of up to 36 months), do community work (up to 72 hours), or pay fines of up to $10,000.

Your next course of action will depend on whether the DWI charge will carry severe consequences. Here’s what to do after a DUI charge for fair outcomes:

1. Do Not Answer Any Incriminating Questions Without a Lawyer

Police officers may try to get you to incriminate yourself when charged with a DUI in NC. The arrest may also put you in distress, thus making you plead guilty when you’re innocent.

Only give your name, insurance information, license, and registration documents to the police. Don’t answer the police when asked if you were driving under the influence. You risk facing severe consequences after answering any potentially incriminating questions.

Lying will also worsen the situation since police officers are trained to spot incongruences in your responses. Ask to speak to an attorney if the questions asked seem to jeopardize your case.

2. Take the Chemical Test After the Arrest

Under North Carolina’s implied consent law, you must take a chemical test when charged with a DUI. The test should only be administered once a police officer has adequate reason to believe that you were driving while impaired. You’ll submit to the test through a breathalyzer or blood test to measure your blood alcohol content.

The officer should inform you of the risks of refusing to take the test. DUI in NC penalties includes losing your license for one year or getting your license restricted for six months.

Refusing to take a chemical test won’t guarantee your innocence in a DUI case. The prosecutors may use this gesture as evidence in court. The police may even obtain a warrant to subject you to a mandatory blood test.

3. Locate a Bail Bond Company

Seek the expert services of a bail bond provider if your DUI charge requires you to post bail. The company will require an upfront fee for them to post bail on your behalf. Often, this is a better option than paying bail directly to the court.

The bail bond company guarantees that you will attend your hearings when required. They will dedicate their resources to look for you if you fail to show up.

4. Record All Details of the Events Leading to Your Arrest

Record the details of events that lead to your arrest. You may write this information down or record it on your phone’s voice notes app. Write down what you said to the police when they pulled you over and what they said back to you.

If there were any potential witnesses at the time of the arrest, ask your attorney to contact them. These witnesses may include passengers in your vehicle or any person at the scene of the arrest.

Your records will help the attorney in creating a suitable defense strategy for the DUI case. It will also help them counter any misleading arguments brought by the prosecutors.

5. Determine If You Need a DUI Attorney

Hire an attorney if you intend to take a “not guilty” plea at your court hearing. You may take this plea if you believe that the breathalyzer used to measure your BAC was faulty. The plea may also be ideal if you were not intoxicated or impaired at the time of your arrest.

A DUI attorney can help you build a solid case to challenge the prosecution’s allegations. They can also guide you through the complex legal procedures involved in the case.

Your lawyer may also help you get your driving privileges back if you take a “guilty” plea. Weigh the potential consequences of the North Carolina DUI charge when determining the need for a lawyer.

6. Request a DMV Hearing

You have up to ten days after your arrest date to request a DMV hearing formally. This hearing helps determine whether you qualify to keep your driving privileges. You risk losing your driving license for up to a year if you fail to notify the North Carolina DMV (NCDMV) about your DUI charge.

NCDMV will notify you via mail regarding your eligibility for the hearing. They will also inform you about the deadline for making the requests and the associated fees.

The DMV requires you to mail a completed administrative hearing form to the appropriate address. They will only process your request once you pay the applicable fee.

7. Obtain a DL123 Form

A signed DL123 form obtained from a licensed insurer is needed to prove that you have the required DUI insurance. This form helps you get your driver’s license back since the NCDMV doesn’t require SR-22 forms.

As a state-maintained insurance coverage, it’s pretty costly than the standard insurance policy.
Your auto insurer should give you a car policy with a DL123 form attached. The DL123 form should list your name, the effective/expiration date, and the date of issuance.

Your insurer must submit this form on your behalf to improve your likelihood of getting your license back. It is only valid for thirty days from the issuance date as mandated by the NCDMV.

What’s Comes Next After Being Charged with a DUI?

Knowing your rights after being charged with a DUI can help improve the outcomes of your case. Use the practical tips discussed in this guide to ease the stress that comes with a DUI charge.

We are a leading bail bond provider operating in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Thanks to our decades of experience in issuing bail bonds, we can help get your loved one out of jail quickly. Request a consultation with our licensed bail agents today for free.

DWI Charges in North Carolina: Your Guide to What the Law Says

Are you dealing with DWI charges? If so, you could face a variety of outcomes, such as license revocation, jail time, and hefty fines.

The severity of the offense depends on your record or if you’ve had previous DWI convictions. Even a first-time offense can carry stiff penalties. Therefore, think twice before going behind the wheel, even if you’ve had one or two glasses.

This article will highlight the consequences of DWI offenses in North Carolina. Read further to know more.

Implied Consent and DWI

In North Carolina, you must adhere to implied consent. This means you must submit to a breathalyzer test if necessary. If you refuse, the state can suspend your license for 30 days.

Also, you could get an additional one-year suspension after a court hearing on the matter. Even if you beat DWI charges, the one-year suspension will remain in place.

DUI vs DWI in North Carolina

What is the NC law for DUIs? DUI and DWI fall under the same category.

DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, and North Carolina makes no distinction between the two. DWI generally stands for driving while intoxicated. You’ll face DWI charges in North Carolina if you’re BAC surpasses the legal limit.

Before 1983, DWI usually carried heavier charges than a DUI charge. DWI penalties used to be harsher than DUI penalties. Nowadays, both labels have the same punishments.

Plus, DWI charges apply to other substances, which is why DWI is also known as driving while impaired. For example, you could face DWI charges if you’re impaired by prescription drugs.

Moreover, DWI charges are more expansive in the following ways:

  • You can face a DWI charge if you have an open container.
  • You can face a DWI charge if you have a closed or open container on the passenger side of a commercial vehicle.
  • You can face a DWI charge if you help minors obtain alcohol.

Also, you’ll contend with DWI charges even if you weren’t operating a vehicle. If you give keys to an intoxicated person, for example, you could face low-level DWI charges. Otherwise called aiding and abetting a DWI, offenders could face a level 5 DWI offense.

DWI Penalties

A level 5 offense is the lowest punishment under DWI laws in North Carolina. You’ll face a minimum of 24 hours in jail or a maximum of 60 days in jail. Further, you could pay a $200 fine, and the court can suspend your license for 24 hours until serving the minimum 24-hour sentence.

The court could also restrict your ability to operate a vehicle for 30 days, and you may have to perform 24 hours of community service.

In most cases, the judge can suspend the minimum sentence but not always. The remaining offenses break down as follows:

  • Level 4 Offense: Under this category, you’ll get a minimum 48-hour jail sentence and a maximum of 120 days in jail. Then, the judge could suspend your license upon completion of your 48-hour sentence, and you could pay a $500 fine. Then, they could sentence you to 48 hours of community service and/or suspend your ability to drive for 30 days.
  • Level 3 Offense: This category carries a $1,000 fine, a minimum sentence of 72 hours, or a maximum sentence of six months. The judge will lift the suspension of your license after you complete at least 72 hours of jail time. After, you’ll have to complete 72 hours of community service, followed by a 60-day suspension of your driving privileges.
  • Level 2 Offense: This offense category comes with a $1,000 fine and a minimum of seven days in jail. You could also get a sentence of up to one year. In this category, the court cannot lift a minimum sentence.
  • Level 1 Offense: Judges cannot suspend the minimum sentences in this category either. The convicted must serve at least 30 days in jail or up to two years. They could also receive a $4,000 fine.

Offenders who receive level 1 or 2 offenses may also have to complete a substance abuse program. In other cases, they must enroll in other substance-related programs to qualify for license reinstatement.

Levels 1 and 2 offenders could also be repeat offenders. If you have three DWI offenses in the past seven years, you could face a felony DWI.

In this case, you must serve a minimum of one year in jail and complete a substance abuse program. In extreme cases, an officer can seize your car if you drove with a revoked due to a previous DWI offense.

The Solutions

Above all, contact an attorney if you’re facing an NC DWI. More importantly, find an experienced attorney who knows how to handle DWI cases. They can craft a strong defense in the courtroom, and they can help you get your license reinstated.

  • Note: If you’re arrested for a DWI offense, invoke your right to remain silent until you can speak to an attorney. Don’t talk to investigators or police about your case, as they can use anything you say against you.

Also, a bond agency can get you out of jail. Bail bondsmen are a great alternative if you cannot afford to pay the bond on your own.

DWI Charges Are No Laughing Matter

DWI charges carry weighty sentences, which is why you should hire legal representation to help you. DWI and DUI charges fall under the same umbrella in North Carolina.

In most cases, you must serve a minimum amount of jail time. You’ll face heftier sentences for repeat DWI offenses, and the courts could charge you with a felony DWI.

Are you dealing with DUI charges in North Carolina? Click here to learn more.

North Carolina DUI Laws and Statistics Every Driver Should Be Aware Of

The number of DWI arrests in North Carolina has been steadily falling since 2014. 

In that year, almost 50,000 people faced charges of driving while impaired. But in the four years that followed, the number of DUI arrests decreased by nearly 20%

Still, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t drinking and getting behind the wheel anymore. And North Carolina DUI laws remain firmly intact to keep the roads as safe as possible. 

If you’re curious how NC DWI law works, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn the rules of the road in North Carolina. 

North Carolina DUI Laws

In North Carolina, DUI laws apply to younger drivers. If someone under the legal drinking age of 21 has any amount of alcohol in their system while driving, they will receive a DUI charge. For reference, DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. 

Otherwise, adult drivers over the legal limit could face a DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired. The police deploy a DWI for more than just alcohol-related driving offenses, too. 

A DWI could apply for those over 21 who: 

  • Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% while driving a car, or 0.04% while driving a commercial vehicle
  • Have opioids, benzos, or other controlled substances present in their system
  • Are under the influence of another impairing substance, according to state law

NC DWI Law applies to whoever has what’s called actual physical control of a vehicle. This phrase means that the car doesn’t have to be in motion for police to hand over a DWI. 

In the past, NC courts have found drivers to be in actual physical control of a vehicle in a myriad of unusual circumstances. For instance, an impaired passenger jumped into the driver’s seat of a car while it was pulled over. He did so to turn on the heat, but, because of his position in the vehicle, police determined he had actual physical control while impaired.

Aggravating Factors of a DWI

Not all DWIs deal with impaired driving alone. Instead, some defendants face an extended list of charges for other unsafe choices they made while on the road. On the other hand, mitigating factors can sometimes encourage leniency from the courts. 

Gross aggravating factors cover any other major offenses made while driving impaired. For example, the judge would consider it a gross aggravating factor if an impaired driver caused serious injury to someone else while behind the wheel. Other gross aggravating factors include driving with a minor or driving on a revoked license and receiving a DWI. 

The judge might also find aggravating factors in a DWI case. These include driving with a BAC that’s higher than 0.15% or reaching speeds that surpass the limit by 30 mph. Those who pass a stopped school bus, flee from police, or cause an accident will have aggravating factors added to their DWI, too. 

DWI Levels and Consequences

All of these aggravating factors play into NC DWI Laws when it comes to sentencing. As one would expect, an aggravated DWI would come with a more severe consequence under the law. 

With three or more gross aggravating factors present, a driver would face an aggravated level one DWI. With conviction would come a fine of up to $10,000, as well as jail time of 12 to 36 months. Judges might also send the defendant to rehab or order drug and alcohol monitoring, especially if they opt for probation over jail. 

From there, the punishments become relatively more lenient. A level one DWI with two gross aggravating factors — or if the impaired driver had a minor passenger — would incur a fine of up to $4,000. The driver could go to jail for between 30 days and 24 months, although the judge could also agree to probation. 

A single gross aggravating factor would equal a level two DWI and a fine of up to $2,000. The defendant could avoid jail time altogether, so long as they submit to sobriety testing for 90 days. 

On that note, someone who already has a DWI charge on their record could deal with more severe punishment, too. For instance, a person with three DWIs already could spend three years in jail. Their fine could reach $10,000, as well. 

Mitigating Factors

DWIs without any gross aggravating factors are handled on a case-by-case basis. The judge will apply NC DWI Laws to determine if the offense is a level three, four, or five offense. 

They do so by considering any mitigating factors of the charge. As the title implies, mitigating factors lessen the blow of a DWI charge. For instance, a person who became impaired by a prescribed medication could use that information as a mitigating factor.

The judge would also use a person’s relatively low BAC as a mitigating factor — anything less than 0.09% would help a defendant’s case. They could also argue that they were driving safely in spite of the breathalyzer’s reading. 

So, a relatively low BAC could help a person lessen their DWI charge to a level 5 offense, which would carry an up-to-$200 fine and five days or less in jail. A level 4 charge would come with double the fines and jail time. And a person would have to pay up to $1,000 and spend between three days and six months in jail for a level 3 DWI. 

License Revocation

Finally, anyone convicted under North Carolina DUI Laws would have their license revoked by the state. The length of punishment would depend on the number of DWI charges a person has on their record. 

After an initial offense, a person would lose their license for a year. A second charge would come with a four-year revocation. And a third DWI would mean that the driver would lose their license permanently. 

Still, a person can petition the DMV to reinstate their license, even after a third offense. Getting it back would be a subjective decision, of course, so driving safely would be the best way to maintain a good standing under NC DUI Laws. 

North Carolina DWI Laws — Tough, But Worth It

As you can see, North Carolina DUI laws are serious. If you do the crime, you will do time — or pay a fine. The consequence should make anyone think twice about getting behind the wheel while impaired. 

Of course, everyone makes mistakes, so know what to expect if you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI. Contact us if you need to post bail for a DWI or any other charge under NC Law. 

DWI vs. DUI: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that nearly one-third of all traffic deaths are due to drunk drivers? Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) puts everyone at risk. The two terms share similar meanings in that you’re not in complete control of your actions.

DWI vs DUI definitions can vary by state, but there are similarities in how they are addressed. If you get pulled over and pass the alcohol sobriety test, you could also get tested for other drugs in your system. Keep in mind that prescription drugs are also considered as DUI.

Let’s see how DUIs and DWIs are considered according to state laws.

Interpretations of DWI vs DUI

Driving while impaired can refer to both alcohol and drugs, while driving under the influence deals specifically with alcohol. Some states differ in definition, with DWI standing for driving while intoxicated, which deals only with alcohol. DUI would then refer to drugs or alcohol.

This distinction may seem like semantics, but in states like North Carolina, it matters a lot. Zero-tolerance states like North Carolina treat DUI as a less-serious charge referring to minors under 21 driving with any alcohol present. Anyone over 21 gets upgraded to a DWI if they test over 0.08% BAC.

All of these rules apply to the driver who has been found driving while impaired. Their blood-alcohol level doesn’t need to exceed 0.08% to get charged with a DWI. Failing the sobriety test or exhibiting impaired behavior is grounds enough for an arrest.

The officer may not know what is impairing judgment, but if they have probable cause, they can hold you for further testing.

Proving DUIs

If you are suspected of DUI but did not fail the sobriety test or breathalyzer, a Drug Recognition Expert is needed to proceed. Oftentimes, this is the same officer who pulled you over. They will then make the determination if you are under the influence of drugs.

If they do find that there is probable cause, they will place you under arrest and charge you based on North Carolina law. That means you’ll have to spend time in jail while awaiting your court hearing unless you get a bail bond out.

DUI Defenses

An experienced DUI attorney has a number of options to try to win a DUI case. It involves smart navigation of state law and careful documentation of evidence.

The Legality of the Stop

The arresting officer must follow specific procedures or risk having their case thrown out. Skipping or incorrectly following guidelines nullifies evidence. An unlawful search and seizure is one example of breaking guidelines.

The attorney can file what is known as a motion to suppress. If this motion succeeds, then the case will rule in your favor.

Challenging the Arrest

Being pulled over and arrested based on probable cause is a tricky procedure. It’s possible that the officer did not gather enough evidence to make the arrest. They need proof that you are breaking the law, which involves evidence of impairment.

You can get off if the case involves you sitting in a vehicle while under the influence. If the vehicle is not in motion, you aren’t breaking any laws.

Blood Draw or Breathalyzer Results

It is possible to challenge the results of the methods of testing by the police. These methods have a lot of variables that could affect the outcome of the tests. It is one of the most litigated areas of a DUI case.

Drawing blood is an especially delicate subject, as nobody can draw it based on demand alone. There are procedures dictating when, where, and how blood is taken that are required or the case is thrown out.

Breathalyzer tests must involve a properly calibrated device, a 20-minute observation period, and certification of operation.

Arrest and Proceedings

A DUI conviction and guilty verdict mean loss of license and fines. You will lose your license even if you take a plea deal. The minimal sentencing will comprise of community service and probation in order to retrieve your driver’s license.

You will also need to attend defensive driving lessons. Remember, all of this can apply to mistakenly driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Ignorance is not a strong argument in most cases, so you’ll need to practice care when receiving new medications.

It is possible that you will undergo an evaluation for possible abuse patterns involving drugs and alcohol. This evaluation helps place convicted members in an appropriate substance abuse treatment programs. AA and NA meetings, as well as dedicated facilities, are chosen by the state.


After meeting the requirements to obtain a license, you will then have to get special insurance. SR-22 insurance is reserved for DWI and DUI offenders, which indicates you as a high-risk to companies. Expect to pay about triple the rate for premiums.

You’ll need to keep this insurance for up to three years before your rates lower. In some cases, you will need an ignition locking device that uses a breathalyzer. You must blow into the integrated device before you can turn on your car.

You’ll also need to pay a fee to use this device. A DWI is very expensive and time-consuming and comes with a bad stigma attached to your record. Being extra cautious and disciplined is the only way to avoid driving down the wrong path.

A Fighting Chance

Whether DWI vs DUI, you can’t afford to risk getting arrested. Prevention is the only way to avoid trouble. Drunk and impaired drivers cause too much death and despair in this country.

Although, if you ever feel like you’ve been wrongly accused of driving while impaired, you need a good attorney who understands. You need someone who is tenacious, empathetic, and experienced. At Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds, we can help clear your name and save you from unfair legal cases.

Contact us today for a free consultation and get the justice you deserve.

Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test? How it Holds Up in Court

People who consistently drive while drunk usually have a laundry list of excuses they would pull out if they ever got pulled over.

They might say that you can dispute the reason for being pulled over, use a tactic to distract the police officer from your intoxication, put a penny in your mouth to throw off the breathalyzer, or even refuse the breathalyzer test. There are more than a few flaws in the tricks listed above, though.

First, taking advice from a regular drunk driver might not be the best idea. Second, can you refuse a breathalyzer test?

Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

We have to unpack a few things before we can fully answer that question. The first thing to remember is that driving in the United States is not a right. It is a privilege granted to you by the state you live in.

Part of your privilege to drive involves the written agreement that you will abide by the laws and regulations given by your state. You’re trained on these regulations when you take driver’s education, and you agree to follow them when you sign the form each time you renew your license.

The thing you are agreeing to is called “implied consent.” Implied consent wraps a few laws into itself, and they are pretty much the same in most states. These laws include having your drivers license and proof of insurance while you are driving.

You’re also required to show those documents when asked to by a police officer. Implied consent also involves agreeing to blood, breath, and urine tests as well as field sobriety tests when required.

North Carolina follows all of the implied consent regulations listed above.

That Being Said, You Can Refuse

You do have the option of refusing a breathalyzer test in the state of North Carolina. While this is true, it’s not necessarily the smartest thing to do. Every state holds additional penalties for refusing to take the test.

Those penalties will be tacked on to you even if you aren’t convicted of drunk driving. You can be arrested and charged for simply refusing to take the breathalyzer test.

Because you broke the promise to consent to a breathalyzer test, the officer can immediately take your license from you. This is an administrative action taken because of the violation of your implied consent.

Beyond immediate confiscation, you’re subject to a six-month to a one-year suspension of your license and possible fines.

Does Refusal Keep Me From Getting a DUI?

Your first thought might be that getting a suspended license is far better than having a DUI on record. It seems as though you can’t be charged if you don’t have the breathalyzer evidence against you.

This is not the case. You are still required to go to court and it’s the officer’s word against yours. Judges will use officer observations to make their decisions, and you’ll be required to answer why you weren’t compliant with the officer. It is a little suspicious for a person to refuse a breathalyzer.

Your refusal is almost an admission of guilt. Also, remember that most police vehicles have cameras on the dashboard that record your entire interaction with the police officer. There’s a chance that you were argumentative, slurring your words, and stumbling if you were drunk.

Some States Are Harsher

There are a number of states that have enacted no-refusal policies. This means that police officers can have near-immediate warrants issued for people who refuse a breathalyzer. The warrant gives the officer a right to a blood sample.

This is usually the case during holiday weekends or particularly busy times of the year. North Carolina doesn’t have no-refusal laws in place at this time.

The Alternative Side

Some lawyers do argue that you should refuse both the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer.

Their argument is that the breathalyzer is skewed away from your favor, and you’re more likely to get a DUI when you breathe into it. Even if you’re not at a .08, they say, you will probably get registered as being too drunk to drive.

In some states, the only breathalyzer machine that is admissible in court is the one present at a police station. The portable one gives the officer the right to bring you in, but it isn’t evidence in court.

There are also a number of increased DUI penalties that come if you receive a DUI and refuse to take the test. Some people will say that these penalties are incentives for you to take the test and pay fines to the police station when you’re found above .08.

Refusing allows you to battle the situation out in court, which gives you more opportunity than simply accepting the DUI and moving on. If you want to take this route, it’s recommended that you do extended research on the subject before refusing a test in person.

This advice may just be a way for some defense attorneys to have more work and make more money. They get paid even if you’re convicted, so be skeptical of those who would always tell you to refuse the test.

Is Someone You Love in Jail for a DUI?

Answering the question “can you refuse a breathalyzer” is irrelevant in some cases. We’re often forced to face the following situation.

Sometimes a person in our lives makes a poor decision and we’re forced to help them out of it. When someone goes to jail, there are complicated court dates, locations, bail amounts, and other hoops to jump through.

The last thing you want to do is navigate all of that on top of the stress of missing your loved one. Additionally, bail is often too high for you to pay out of pocket.

When this is the case, it can often help to get a consult from a bail bond service. We can help you navigate the courts, make bail, and get in contact with your loved one as soon as possible.

If you’re in this situation and need help figuring out what to do next, contact us and we can help you through your difficult time.

What are the Consequences of Getting Your Third DUI in North Carolina?

Getting a DUI for the third time in North Carolina is serious business. Here are some of the DUI consequences you can expect in this situation.

North Carolina is tough on third-time DUI offenders. It’s going to take a lot of time and money to fix the situation.

You, too, can know the road that’s ahead of you. There might not even be a road at all, given the state of your driving privileges.

This is what you need to know about getting a DUI for the third time in North Carolina.


In North Carolina, DUI offenders are charged based on a sliding scale. The scale covers five levels of DUI with level I being the most and level V the least serious.

Any pre-existing DUI charges will increase the severity of the charge. Each DUI conviction qualifies as an aggravating factor that makes your DUI charge more serious.

Since this is your third drunk driving charge, the following is bound to happen.

DUI Consequences: License Revocation

North Carolina automatically and permanently revokes your license on your third DUI charge. You have to deal with a mandatory five-year suspension period.

Once this suspension period is up, you can petition the DMV to reinstate your driving privileges.

If your license is reinstated, the state will install an ignition interlock device (IIC) onto your car. The IIC can detect alcohol on your breath. From thereon, you must blow into the IIC every time you want to drive.

DUI offenders have to pay for the installation and monthly service charges for the IIC.

The DMV might only allow you to drive at certain times of the day or for certain reasons.

Criminal Consequences

Any offender who’s charged with a third DWI within seven years of the second one will most likely be sentenced as a level II offender.

If both DUI convictions occurred in the last seven years, then you’ll most likely be bumped up to a level I offender.

Unlike other levels of DUI convictions, the court does not suspend a jail sentence for level I or level II offenders. The jail time for a level II offender is anywhere from seven days to one year. Level I offenders can expect thirty days to two years in jail.

A driver who gets three DUI convictions in seven years can be charged with a felony or habitually driving while impaired. This is punishable by a one-year sentence.

After the jail sentence, you’ll undergo a probation period.

Money, Money, Money

You’re going to be spending a lot of money for a third-time DUI offense. You’ll get a minimum of a $2,000 fine, but you can expect to pay more, depending on your charges. An aggravated level I offender will have to pay $10,000 on top of a three-year prison sentence.

You’ll also have to pay money for drunk driving classes and substance abuse evaluations. Let’s not forget that IIC, either!

This Is Your Future

DUI consequences are serious and long-lasting. This gives you enough time to get help while you can.

From now on, this is the future you have to look forward to.

Learn more here about the legal nuances of North Carolina. You won’t regret it.

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The Consequences of a First DUI Conviction in North Carolina


When caught driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, there are severe consequences, no matter the state you live in within the United States.

However, North Carolina is a state which holds some of the most stringent penalties when charged with a DUI.

If you or a loved one have been charged, here’s what happens for your first DUI offense…

What Happens For Your First DUI Offense

In the state of North Carolina, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) is defined as:

  • Driving under the influence of a substance which impairs motor function.
  • Displaying a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.8% or more.
  • Having any presence of a schedule 1 controlled substance in the bloodstream, including amphetamines, opiates, and heroin.

As mentioned, North Carolina’s penal system is of America’s harshest for DWI offenders, judged by a sliding misdemeanor scale.

This scale ranges from levels 1-5, with level one being the most serious of offenses and level five being the least serious.

So, with this in mind, what happens if you get a DUI in the state of North Carolina?

1. Arrested and Charged

Once you’re stopped by an officer of the law for suspicion of drunk driving, you’re generally asked to do a simple field sobriety or Breathalyzer test.

If you test positive for drunk driving, you’re then arrested and transported to your nearest police station via police vehicle.

Once you arrived at the station, your biometrics are taken i.e. your photograph and fingerprints. Thereafter, you are generally placed in a holding cell.

In some cases, you can leave the holding cell. But bail must be paid and an escort by family or friends is required.

Depending on the severity of intoxication and surrounding circumstances, you could spend up to 24-hours in prison.

Factors that May Increase the Severity of Punishment for a DWI Offense

A DUI conviction, as it is, has penalties that depend on certain aspects, such as the age of the offender or the last time they were charged with DUI. However, there are circumstances that could make the penalties graver. A few examples of such aggravating factors under North Carolina law are:

  • Irresponsible driving – When a driver is going so fast or recklessly, potentially endangering other motorists and pedestrians
  • Driving with a revoked license – When a driver continues to be on the road despite their revoked license
  • High Blood Alcohol Concentration – When the driver charged with DUI has a BAC of 0.15 or higher
  • Negligent driving – When the driver’s condition resulted in an accident that can be reported
  • Overtaking a school bus – When the driver charged with DWI overtook a stopped school bus
  • Driving with a minor – When there’s a passenger under 18 in the car at the time of the offense
  • Inflicting pain on someone – When the driver hurt another individual seriously during the DUI offense
  • Previous DWI conviction – When the driver has a previous DUI conviction that’s within seven years of the present one

The last three situations merit more severe punishments.

Factors that May Decrease the Severity of Punishment for a DUI Offense

On the other hand, there are also circumstances that may reduce the penalties of a DUI conviction. Some of these situations are:

  • Voluntary treatment – When the driver volunteers to complete a substance abuse treatment program after the offense, and abstains from alcohol consumption for at least two months
  • Entering a mental health facility – Voluntarily checking in at a mental health facility after the offense
  • No previous driving record – Having a safe driving record before the DWI offense

The penalty for a DUI offense depends on certain factors relevant to your case. A judge has the discretion to determine the weight given to any aggravating and mitigating factors. Posting bail with the help of a reputable bail bondsman in NC allows you to hire a lawyer to represent you in court. Your attorney makes sure that the penalty carried out by the judge is fair.

2. Issuing of Court Summons

Another one of the most common DUI consequences is being issued a court summons where you will need to appear in court on a particular date.

During this court appearance, the charges of your DWI will be read to you and you have the option of either pleading guilty or not guilty.

If you plead guilty, which is generally the recommended answer, you are issued with a fine and sentencing should your DWI rank highly enough on the 1-5 misdemeanor scale.

3. License Revocation

When arrested for a DUI, you can expect to have your license revoked. This is generally standard procedure across all states within the U.S.

The length of time of your license revocation may vary though, depending on the severity of your DWI on the misdemeanor scale.

In North Carolina, drivers face two types of license revocation: civil suspension and criminal suspension.

You face a 30-day civil suspension if you refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test or have a BAC of over 0.8%. After this, an additional 1-year suspension is imposed.

If you are not required to appear in court, this 1-year civil suspension is still imposed. However, you do have access to a limited driving privilege after a 6-month period.

In a criminal license suspension, you are convicted by the court and your license is suspended for one year. You will also be required to undergo alcohol assessment and treatment in order to reinstate your license.

4. Fines and Criminal Charges

Most first-time DWI offenders are classed as a 5, 4 or 3 on the misdemeanor scale.

If you are charged in a court of law, you may face a minimum jail sentence, however, these sentences can be suspended by the court.

The minimum jail sentencing periods vary according to the misdemeanor scale, for first-time offenders jail times may include:

  • Level 5: 24 hours – 60 days
  • Level 4: 48 hours – 120 days
  • Level 3: 72 hours – 6 months

A standard part of being issued a DUI ticket is receiving a fine. Along with the jail sentencing, these fines vary according to the misdemeanor scale.

For a first-time DWI, you can expect to pay:

  • Level 5: $200
  • Level 4: $500
  • Level 3: $1,000

If your jail sentence is suspended, a judge can order you to serve a term of probation instead, which is controlled by a probation officer.

You may also be required to serve community service or participate in a drug and alcohol evaluation program.

Looking For Bail Bond Solutions?

Now that you understand the basics of what happens for your first DUI offense, learn more about finding the right bail bondsman with Amistad.

If you’re feeling daunted by the process of bailing out a loved one, turn to Amistad Bail and Immigration Bonds for assistance and advice.

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