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.