Driving under the influence endangers you and others on the road. It’s also a serious offense under criminal law and will result in consequences from fines to jail time. With Fourth of July — one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunken driving — on the horizon, take the time to educate yourself on DUI law. Here’s what to know if you’re getting behind the wheel in North Carolina.
A Guide to North Carolina DWI Laws
What constitutes a DWI?
In North Carolina, the term DWI — driving while intoxicated — is used instead of driving under the influence. To qualify for a DWI, you must have a blood alcohol concentration — BAC — of at least .08%. If you are under 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy, meaning any trace of alcohol will result in a DWI.
What criminal law consequences do you face for a first offense?
If you have no DWI convictions within the past seven years, you are considered a first-time offender. Criminal law consequences include jail time — ranging from 24 hours to two years — and a fine of $200 to $4,000. The severity of your punishment depends on various factors; for instance, if you had a child under age 18 in the car, expect more severe outcomes.
Can you refuse a chemical test?
North Carolina is an implied consent state. If you refuse to take a chemical test, you will be fined and face an automatic license suspension. For a first offense, expect a one-year suspension. Even if you aren’t convicted in court, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will uphold this.
What should you do if you are stopped?
If you are pulled over, don’t get chatty. Even saying “I just had one beer” is technically an admission of guilt. Exercise your right to remain silent and contact an attorney.We may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a less serious charge or get you off the hook altogether.
If you find yourself facing DUI charges in North Carolina this Independence Day, contact Fulcher Law Firm. Located in Albemarle, they serve Anson, Montgomery and Stanly Counties with responsive, dedicated legal services. With over 18 years of experience, this full-service law firm covers an array of practice areas from traffic violations to child custody. Visit their website for a full list. To schedule an appointment with a criminal law attorney, call (704) 984-6060.