North Carolina DWI Laws & Penalties

North Carolina DWI law states that it is unlawful for any person to operate or attempt to drive a motorized vehicle in the state of North Carolina while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicants or any combination thereof with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence in North Carolina to show the typical signs of impairment one would expect to see in someone who has been consuming alcohol or drugs, just the fact that that person's BAC level is above the legal limit of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DWI in North Carolina.



A person can still be arrested and charged with DWI in North Carolina even if their BAC level is below the legal limit just by displaying signs of impairment that are consistent with driving under the influence.

Even before an officer stops someone on suspicion of DWI, the officer is already starting to build a case against that individual starting with observing the individual's driving behavior prior to initiating a DWI stop.  The officer is going to be observing whether or not you are swerving within your own lane or whether or not you are swerving over the lane markers.

He will also be looking for other signs like excessively wide turns, how you are maintaining your speed versus the posted speed limit and other various observations.  All of this is going on even before the officer initiates a DWI stop.

When you are stopped the officer is going to start by asking the obvious questions as to whether or not you've been drinking and then the officer will proceed into asking you to perform some field sobriety tests.  It is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests, you have every right to kindly refuse to submit to them.

You are however, required by North Carolina's implied consent law to submit to a chemical test.  If you refuse to submit to a chemical test the arresting officer must inform you of the penalties for a test refusal and then ask you a second time if you will submit to a chemical test.

Every driver who holds a North Carolina driver's license has agreed to the state's implied consent law when they initially accepted their North Carolina driver's license.  Basically the implied consent law says that if you are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence you shall submit to a chemical test to check for alcohol, drugs or intoxicants in your body.

If you have been arrested on a DWI charge in North Carolina it is very important that speak with an experienced North Carolina DWI lawyer as soon as possible regarding your case and what your options are.

North Carolina First Offense DWI

A North Carolina first offense DWI is a Misdemeanor offense.  A first offense conviction carries the following fines and penalties:

  • Jail time: The minimum jail sentence for a first offense conviction is 24-hours or up to the maximum jail sentence of 24 months.  The length of the jail sentence term beyond the minimum will be at the court's discretion.
  • Fines: The minimum fine amount for a first offense is $100 plus court costs up to a maximum fine of $2,000 plus court costs.  At the court's discretion they may order you to just serve jail time versus paying any fine amounts. Even if the court orders you to serve jail time in lieu of any fines, you will still have to pay any court costs.
  • Community service: The court may require a first time offender to perform up to 24-hours of community service.
  • Test refusal: The.
  • Ignition interlock: The.
  • DWI assessment: You will be required to have a DWI assessment done, the cost of the assessment is currently $100.  If you get an assessment done right away you can get a provisional license 10 days after your arrest for a first offense.  First time offenders who have never been previously convicted of a DWI offense and registered a BAC of .14% or less might qualify for ADETS program which is only 16-hours long and costs $160 for the program.

  • License revocation: The mandatory revocation period for a first offense violation is 1-year.  You may be eligible for limited driving privileges with a provisional license if you meet the requirements for one.

    Before the North Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your revocation period or issue you a provisional license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a North Carolina SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

 

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North Carolina Second Offense DWI

A North Carolina second offense DWI is a Misdemeanor offense.  A second offense conviction carries the following fines and penalties:

  • Jail time: The minimum jail sentence for a second offense conviction is 7 days or up to the maximum jail sentence of 12 months.  If the second offense occurred within 3-years of a previous offense the jail sentence can be up to 1-year.  The length of the jail sentence term beyond the minimum will be at the court's discretion based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and all previous convictions.
  • Fines: The maximum fine amount for a second offense will be up to $2,000 plus court costs.  At the court's discretion they may order you to just serve jail time versus paying any fine amounts.  Even if the court orders you to serve jail time in lieu of any fines, you will still have to pay any court costs.
  • DWI assessment: You will be required to have a DWI assessment done, the cost of the assessment is currently $100.
  • Ignition interlock: Second time offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle prior to having their license reinstated.  The installation and monthly service costs of the device will be at your expense.
  • License revocation: The mandatory revocation period for a second offense violation is 4-years if the second conviction is within 3-years of a first offense conviction.  You may be eligible for limited driving privileges using a provisional license if you meet the requirements for such.  If the second offense is within 7-years of the first offense conviction, you will not be eligible for a provisional license.

    Before the North Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your revocation period or issue you a provisional license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a North Carolina SR22 policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

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North Carolina Third Offense DWI

A North Carolina third offense DWI is a Misdemeanor offense.  A third offense conviction carries the following fines and penalties:

  • Jail time: The minimum jail sentence for a third offense conviction is 14 days or up to the maximum jail sentence of 2-years.  The length of the jail sentence term beyond the minimum will be at the court's discretion based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and all previous convictions.
  • Fines: The maximum fine amount for a third offense will be up to $2,000 plus court costs.  At the court's discretion they may order you to just serve jail time versus paying any fine amounts.  Even if the court orders you to serve jail time in lieu of any fines, you will still have to pay any court costs.
  • DWI assessment: You will be required to have a DWI assessment done, the cost of the assessment is currently $100.
  • Ignition interlock: Third time offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle prior to having their license reinstated.  The installation and monthly service costs of the device will be at your expense.
  • License revocation: The mandatory revocation period for a third offense violation is 4-years if there no previous convictions within the past 5-years. If you have had at least one other conviction within the past 5-year period your license will be revoked for life.

    Before the North Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your revocation period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.

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North Carolina Fourth Offense DWI

A North Carolina fourth offense DWI could be classified as a Grievous Felony offense if the three prior convictions occurred within the past 5-years.  A fourth offense conviction carries the following fines and penalties:

  • Jail time: The minimum jail sentence for a fourth offense conviction is 1-year or up to the maximum jail sentence of 3-years.  The length of the jail sentence term beyond the minimum will be at the court's discretion based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and all previous convictions.
  • Fines: The maximum fine amount for a fourth offense will be at the court's discretion.  Even if the court orders you to serve jail time in lieu of any fines, you will still have to pay any court costs.
  • License revocation: Your license will be revoked for life following a fourth offense conviction.

North Carolina CDL DWI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of North Carolina while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DWI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.

A second CDL DWI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.  At the discretion of the DMV they may reduce a second violation to a 10-year revocation.  If you are convicted of a third or subsequent violation you will be barred for life from operating a commercial motor vehicle in any state.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

North Carolina DWI Under 21 Years of Age

If you are stopped by an officer and found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs with even a trace amount in your system you are in violation of North Carolina's "zero tolerance" law for drivers under the age of 21.  A first time violation will result in your license being revoked for 1-year.

If you are under 21 and you try to purchase alcohol your license will be revoked for 1-year. Your license will also be revoked for 1-year for attempting to purchase or help anyone else under the age of 21 try to purchase alcohol.  Your license may also be revoked for 1-year for allowing someone else to use your license to attempt to purchase alcohol or for using false identification to purchase alcohol.

If a person under 21 is arrested for having a BAC of .08% or greater they will face the same charges as someone over 21 would be facing for the same offense.

North Carolina SR22 Requirements

Before the North Carolina DMV will reinstate your license following your revocation period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your North Carolina SR-22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the North Carolina DMV of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the North Carolina DMV will immediately revoke your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of North Carolina and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in North Carolina for any less.Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other North Carolina DWI Resources

  • North Carolina First Offense DWI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DWI classes, and much more.

  • North Carolina SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Missouri's SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • North Carolina ADETS - We offer a complete listing of state approved DWI alcohol drug education training schools listed by County.

  • North Carolina Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of NC bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.