What to know about DWI in North Carolina

While many states call drunk driving DUI, North Carolina calls it DWI or driving while impaired. In the past, a DUI charge was separate, but now DWI and DUI get treated the same. Drivers in Monroe, North Carolina, should know the laws and what kind of penalties they may face.

Overview of DWI in North Carolina

DWI laws in North Carolina make it a punishable offense to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The state changed its definition of being in physical control of the vehicle to include even if not in motion. Like all other states, North Carolina has implied consent laws, which means the driver agrees to chemical tests by having a valid license.

Standard drivers are limited to a blood alcohol level of 0.08 and commercial drivers to 0.04. Drivers under 21 are not permitted to have any amounts of alcohol or controlled substances under the Zero Tolerance law. If the driver has been convicted of a previous DWI, they cannot register above 0.04 on chemical testing.

DWI penalties

North Carolina imposes charges ranging from Level 1 to 5, with aggravated Level 1 being the highest offense. A first Level 1 offense includes penalties of up to a $4,000 fine, a minimum 30- to 90-day jail sentence, and a one-year license suspension.

A Level 2 charge may include penalties of a minimum seven-day jail term, a four-year license suspension and up to a $2,000 fine. A 240-hour community service penalty commonly applies to drivers who get a second charge within five years. Some first offenders could qualify for a restricted license to use for only going to school and work.

A conviction or DWI can have serious long-term repercussions. Drivers can’t plea down to a wet reckless charge, but the charges may get reduced to reckless driving or reckless endangerment.