The determination of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) penalties and fines in North Carolina (NC) is by no means a simple task. In North Carolina, drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 and above. This BAC level is a standard impaired driver benchmark throughout the US. DUI laws in North Carolina determine the kind of punishment to be meted out to a driver who has been arrested and convicted of driving under the influence. There are several variables that come into play during the determination of appropriate punishment for the guilty driver.
According to the North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ), first time dui offenders get a one year license suspension which is mandatory. They are also required to undergo an assessment and treatment program for substance abuse.
Second DWI offense in NC is punished by a 4 year license suspension especially if the first DWI offense happened less than three years ago. In order for the license to be restored, the driver will have to contend with an ignition interlock device. The driver also gets to undergo substance abuse treatment/ assessment.
The third DWI offense in NC results in 12 months minimum imprisonment, permanent license revocation if the last DWI offense happened within 5 years, an ignition interlock device to be in place for at least 7 years should the license restoration be allowed and possible vehicle forfeiture. Under North Carolina dui laws, if the previous DWI offenses all happened within a ten year span, the felony is categorized as a class F habitual/regular impaired driving.
Apart from also being categorized as a class F habitual or chronic impaired driving felony especially if the previous three incidences happened within 10 years, the fourth DWI offense in NC is followed by a 1 year minimum incarceration, license suspension and a permanent revocation of the same especially if the previous three incidences were within 7 years and the fitting of the vehicle with an ignition interlock device if license restoration is considered. The offending driver is also required to go for a substance abuse treatment/assessment program.
DUI laws in North Carolina mete out varying penalties to offenders depending on the following factors. The grossly aggravating factors determine whether the driver gets a level one (prison term ranging from 30 days to 24 months and a $4,000 fine) or level two punishments (prison term ranging from 7days to 1 year and a $2,000 fine). Two aggravating factors result in a level one punishment while a single aggravating factor at the time of arrest qualifies one for a level two punishment. These factors include:
- Previous DWI conviction in seven years
- DUI while the license is already suspended for another DWI offense
- Causing serious bodily harm to other road users while DUI
- Having under 16 children in the car while DWI
The other factors include mitigating and aggravating factors. These strict DUI laws in North Carolina leave sober driving as the only alternative for anyone who does not want to risk their future, freedom and finances.