North Carolina First DWI

North Carolina First Offense DWI Laws Explained in Easy to Understand Simple Terms

If you are caught driving in North Carolina after drinking too much alcohol, you will be charged with a DWI (Driving While Impaired) and most DWI charges do turn into convictions.

A DWI can be proven in two ways. First, the legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) in North Carolina is 0.08, so if you take a chemical alcohol test, such as a blood or breath test, and your BAC meets or exceeds the legal limit, the court can use that as proof of intoxication. Second, if law enforcement and the district attorney can prove that alcohol adversely affected your driving, the court can convict you of a DWI, regardless of your BAC.

Therefore, the first thing you want to do, once you have been arrested, is to contact an experienced North Carolina DWI lawyer. North Carolina DWI law is complicated, and it would be very stressful to try to figure it all out on your own, especially if this is your first offense.

You want an expert on your side, someone to explain the process to you, and to make sure that you are treated fairly throughout the process. Though the information on this site is written to help you, it is no substitute for a real lawyer.

North Carolina First Offense DWI Penalties

If, at the time of your arrest, your BAC is 0.08 or higher, your driving privilege will immediately be revoked for 30 days. After 10 of those days, you might qualify for a limited driving privilege while you wait for your court date, if you have completed a substance abuse assessment by an approved facility. This assessment costs $50.

A first offense DWI with no aggravating factors is considered a Level Five DWI. Criminal penalties include:

  • $200 fine
  • $100 court costs
  • $200 community service fee
  • 24 hours of community service
  • Alcohol assessment program

In addition to your criminal penalties, the DMV will also revoke your driver’s license for 1 year. First time offenders may qualify for a limited driving privilege, which allows them to drive to and from work, community service, alcohol treatment, or school.

If your DWI case had any aggravating factors, penalties will be more severe. For example, if your BAC was 0.16 or higher, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Other aggravating factors include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding 30 mph over the limit
  • Poor traffic record
  • Evading law enforcement
  • Property damage

North Carolina Ignition Interlock

Once you get your driver’s license back, you will need to drive with an ignition interlock in your vehicle for 1 year. You will be responsible for all the associated costs, including installation, service, and removal.

North Carolina SR22 Insurance

Many states require DWI offenders to carry a special kind of auto insurance, known as SR22 insurance. SR22 insurance provides proof of future financial responsibility to high-risk drivers. At this time, North Carolina does not require SR22 insurance. However, if you move to North Carolina and you are currently required to maintain an SR22 filing in your previous state, you will be required to maintain a filing with the NC DMV.

Additional North Carolina DWI Resources