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North Carolina DWI Laws

If you have been arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) in the State of North Carolina, you should immediately contact a defense attorney who focuses in this area of law. North Carolina has strict laws and penalties regarding operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (even if they are lawfully prescribed medications). This is a complex area of law, which is why you need to find an attorney who has extensive experience representing clients charged with DWI.

In 1983, North Carolina amended its Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws, stating that a person could be convicted in two ways. The first is driving while subject to an impairing substance. The second is violating the state’s Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC) or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit of .10. If the prosecution tried to convict you of the driving while impaired charge, they were required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your physical and/or mental abilities were impaired to an appreciable extent by the use of drugs and/or alcohol while you were operating a motor vehicle. Thereafter, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the legal limit to .08, following a nationwide effort to lower the level necessary for a conviction of Driving Under the Influence/Driving While Impaired. Some states refer to offenses of impaired driving as Operating While Impaired (OWI) and Operating While Intoxicated (OUI).

Under the .08 standard, which may be proven through different testing methods including breath testing and blood sampling, the prosecution must only prove that your BAC was at or above the state’s legal limit of .08% at any relevant time after operating a motor vehicle from alcohol consumed before or during driving. “Operation” does not necessarily require driving the vehicle under recent amendments to drunk-driving laws. The State of North Carolina may prove this violation by introducing evidence of your chemical test (blood, breath or urine). Remember, under the .08 charge theory the prosecution will not have to prove that you were intoxicated or impaired, but simply that you were over the state’s legal blood alcohol content limit.  There are also DWI charges involving certain lawfully prescribed medications. 

It's important to know that in addition to the criminal charge you’ll face, you could also have to answer to the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Under their campaign, “Booze It and Lose It,” you may lose your license if there is proof that you were DWI or you willfully refused to take a breath or blood test. The Court may suspend your license for thirty (30) days if your test result is .08 or higher under North Carolina General Statute §20-16.5(e).

The Department of Transportation will immediately suspend your driver’s license if you refused to submit to a blood, breath or urine test. This is due to North Carolina’s Implied Consent law, which requires all licensed drivers to submit to a chemical test if police believe they are driving while intoxicated. In addition to losing your driver’s license, you can also face harsh penalties in criminal court for violating the Implied Consent law.

While the laws and penalties are severe for DWI, you do not have to plead guilty! Talk to qualified DWI defense attorney Bill Powers of Powers McCartan, PLLC. first, by submitting a free online case evaluation form.

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