November marks the beginning of the holiday season and it’s typically a time of family, time off and merriment. It’s also the season of holiday parties and events.

Sometimes, while you’re enjoying yourself at a holiday event, it’s easy to unintentionally overindulge. That is why it’s imperative to make sure you always have a designated driver if you’ll be attending a holiday party or event. Or, utilize an app like Uber or Lyft. Before you think about getting behind the wheel after enjoying a few drinks, be sure you understand how the state of North Carolina defines a DWI and what the penalties are.

DWI Defined

In North Carolina, it is determined if you’re legally impaired by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

  • 21 Years or Older: 0.08%
  • Commercial Drivers (CDL): 0.04%
  • Younger than 21: Any alcohol concentration
  • Prior DWI: 0.04%

Please note that a man who weighs 140 pounds reaches a .08% BAC after only three drinks. It doesn’t take much to be considered “legally intoxicated.”                       

North Carolina DWI Penalties

If you are charged with a DWI, be prepared to for a series of penalties such as fines, court costs, lawyer fees, license suspension or revocation, jail time, community service and a spike in car insurance rates. You’ll be paying for your DWI for a very long time.

There are also five levels of the North Carolina DWI that vary in degrees of severity.

Level 5

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $200 fine.
  • Between 24 hours and 60 days in jail. (Your judge might suspend your sentence to 24 hours of imprisonment or 24 hours of community service as part of probation.)
  • Substance abuse assessment, if you’re placed on probation.

Level 4

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $500 fine.
  • Between 48 hours and 120 days in jail. (Your judge might suspend your sentence to 48 hours of imprisonment or 48 hours of community service as part of probation.)
  • Substance abuse assessment, if you’re placed on probation.

Level 3

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $1,000 fine.
  • Between 72 hours and 6 months in jail. (Your judge might suspend your sentence to 72 hours of imprisonment or 72 hours of community service as part of probation.)
  • Substance abuse assessment, if you’re placed on probation.

Level 2

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $2,000 fine.
  • Between 7 days and 12 months in jail. (Your judge might suspend your sentence to 90 days of abstaining from alcohol, which the court will monitor.)
  • Substance abuse assessment, if you’re placed on probation.

Level 1

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $4,000 fine.
  • Between 30 days and 24 months in jail. (Your judge might give you 10 days under probation cases involving alcohol monitoring for 120 days.)
  • Substance abuse assessment, if you’re placed on probation.

Aggravated Level 1

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days, with the possibility of limited driving privileges after 10 days.
  • Up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Between 12 months and 36 months in jail. (Your judge might give you 120 days under probation cases involving alcohol monitoring for a minimum of 120 days.)
  • Monitored abstaining from alcohol for 4 months after prison release.
  • Substance abuse assessment.

Information on the North Carolina DWI, its penalties and its levels was obtained from: https://www.dmv.org/nc-north-carolina/automotive-law/dui.php.

Thomas Bumgardner can help you understand the laws of DWI in North Carolina. Please call us for a free consultation at 704-887-4981. We’re experienced and we’re here to listen to your situation and to offer our professional guidance.