North Carolina DWI Penalties
North Carolina DWI laws are strict – and for good reason. Driving while intoxicated puts everyone on the road in danger: the driver, any passengers, other motorists, and even pedestrians. In North Carolina, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or while you are under the influence of drugs (whether legal or illegal). Keep in mind, the limit is 0.04 for commercial drivers.
Your BAC can be measured by a breathalyzer test (more common) or a blood test. Refusing to take either test brings on a slew of penalties—a big one being that your drivers license will be revoked for a minimum of 30 days as well as an additional 12 months by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A suspended license in North Carolina is a serious punishment, and something you don’t take lightly.
Moreover, taking a breathalyzer or blood test and showing a BAC of 0.08 or higher comes with other immediate consequences—just like there are consequences for all North Carolina traffic violations. Below we’ve outlined the punishments determined by DWI laws for a first conviction of DWI through a fourth conviction.
- Mandatory drivers license revocation for 1 year
- A fine of up to $2,000
- No fewer than 24 hours in prison, with the possibility of up to 24 months
- 24 hours of community service
- Complete loss of driving privileges for 30 days
- Mandatory drivers license revocation for 4 years (if convicted within 3 years of prior offense)
- A fine of up to $1,000
- A minimum of 7 days in prison, a maximum of 12 months
- No limited driving privileges if the second conviction occurs within 7 years of the first conviction
- Mandatory permanent drivers license revocation (if at least one of the first two convictions took place within the last five years)
- A fine of up to $2,000
- At least 14 days imprisonment, and 24 months imprisonment at most
North Carolina DWI laws are harshest if you rack up a fourth conviction.
- Mandatory permanent drivers license revocation (a fourth offense is considered a felony if the last three convictions happened within the past seven years)
- Paying a hefty fine
- Serving between 1 and 3 years in prison
Unfortunately, drivers of legal drinking age aren’t the only ones who get busted with a BAC above the limit when they’re behind the wheel. Underage drivers (younger than 21 years old) face a 1-year suspended license in North Carolina for a first-time conviction of any of the following:
- Purchasing/attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage
- Aiding or abetting someone in the purchase of alcohol
- Attempting to use a fake drivers license or identification to buy an alcoholic beverage
- Driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their system
In addition, according to North Carolina DWI laws, any person who allows an underage individual to use his or her drivers license to buy alcohol can have their license revoked for 1 year.
Make the Right Decision
It’s bad enough having North Carolina traffic tickets on your driving record. Do you really want to have a serious offense like a DWI on it? On top of the penalties associated with DWI laws, driving while intoxicated is a dangerous and irresponsible act that can affect your job, your finances, and many other aspects of your life. If you’ve been drinking, have a designated driver take you home, or just call a cab. It’s always better to be safe than sorry – and it’s a lot less expensive, too! It might seem inconvenient at the time, but it’s a lot easier than suffering with the consequences of North Carolina DWI laws.