Gone are the days when an officer lets you go with a slap on the wrist for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Today, things are different and the penalty for DWI & DUI offenders in North Carolina could be very severe. Thus, the state is known as the toughest state in the United State for offenders. In this article, I will outline things you should know about DUI & DWI cases in the state and how to get help.
What is DUI & DWI?
DUI and DWI are brought up often when people talk about driving a vehicle under the influence. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence while DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. However, in the state of North Carolina, both crimes are not distinguished. Previously, they were handled as separate cases and the penalty for DWI cases were more severe than DUI. But, The North Carolina’s safe Roads Act of 1983 put both cases under a single offence and they are treated as DWI.
What determines a DWI?
The state prohibits the operation of a vehicle on any street, highway or any public vehicular area by an individual above the age of 21, whose Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is about 0.08% or more. If the driver is under the age of 21, any level of alcohol intake will result to a DWI. If the driver has been arrested for a DWI case in the past, his or her BAC has to test for less than 0.04%. This is also applicable in the case of commercial drivers. Any driver in this category whose BAC tests for 0.04% or more, will be charged with a DWI.
When pulled over by an officer for erratic driving such as in the case of over speeding or ignoring the red light, the officer may ask you to perform a sobriety test. This test is done to determine your mental and physical capabilities. You may be asked to walk on a straight line, recite the alphabets backwards or to stand on one leg. After this test, the officer may still ask you to take a chemical test to be certain that, you were not driving under the influence of any substance.
How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit?
It’s almost impossible to know for certain how many drinks it’ll take for your BAC score to be 0.08% or 0.04%. This is because, the charts and calculators available aren’t always accurate. They do not always consider the variables that determines a BAC score. Also, due to how different our bodies work, it may be impossible to tell. An individual could test for 0.05% after a single drink but this is not the same for everyone. Thus, it is advisable to avoid driving even after a drink or two.
Is DWI restricted to driving under the influence?
DWI charges in North Carolina are not restricted to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are other acts that are categorized as DWI and they include but are not limited to: possession of an opened or closed alcoholic beverage in the passenger side while operating a commercial vehicle, possession of an opened alcoholic beverage in the vehicle and assisting a minor in any way to obtain alcohol.
What are the penalties for DWI?
DWI is a very serious offence in North Carolina with very serious penalties. You could lose your finances due to heavy fines and compromise your future. Penalties may include; heavy fees, mandatory jail time, community service, increased insurance rates, license suspension and so on. The punishment for DWI varies depending on some factors such as:
- Prior DWI conviction within 7 years.
- Child under 18 in vehicle while DWI
- DWI while license is suspended for a previous DWI
- Serious injury to another person while DWI
The penalty for this offense, is determined by how many of these factors the offender is guilty of at the time of arrest. For instance, if the offender is guilty of one of the above listed factors, they are liable to serve jail time for about 7 days-12 months and pay a fine that may be up to $2,000. Therefore, if the offender is guilty of two or more of these factors at the time of the arrest, the penalty would be more severe.
However, there are cases of first time offenders that are not guilty of any of the above listed factors. In this case, the offender may spend a mandatory jail time of about 24 hours, pay of a fine of $200 and risk suspension of their driving license for about 60 days-12 months.
We can help
DWI is a serious offence and breaking this law can destabilize you and make you feel afraid. We understand how tiring and draining the whole process might be but the good news is, we’re here to help. When arrested for DWI charges, the next thing you’ll be instructed to do, is to get a DWI assessment. A DWI assessment is required for everyone who is charged with a Driving While Impaired offense in the state of North Carolina. The DWI Assessment determines the level of treatment you will be required to complete in order to reinstate your full driving privilege.
At the Behavioral Health Intervention Center in Charlotte, we offer judgment free DWI assessments, DWI classes, Alcohol Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS), and Drug Education conveniently on weekends and evenings. We customize our programs to fit all schedules because we don’t want the process of getting your license back or fulfilling court requirements to cost you time off work or out of school.
With three different locations in Charlotte, all you have to do is call to book an appointment today. If you or someone you know in the Charlotte area needs a DWI Assessment, please contact Behavioural Health Intervention Center at (704)-458-9292. DWI assessments are provided the same day, at our alcoholism counseling center and during times that fit your needs.