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DWI Meaning in North Carolina: What You Need to Know

In North Carolina, the legal term for impaired driving is Driving While Impaired (DWI). If a law enforcement officer catches you driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you can face criminal penalties, including jail time. It’s important to know what DWI means in NC and what to do if you face charges for this crime. In this article, we will explore the meaning of DWI and discuss the possible consequences of a conviction.

What is Drunk Driving in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the legal DWI meaning refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A Driving Under the Influence DUI refers to the same legal limit for drivers who try to get behind the wheel of their car while substances dampen their ability to drive.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is not a more serious charge than Driving While Intoxicated DWI in NC. DUI or DWI means the same thing in our state. Although the correct terminology for impaired driving is DWI in North Carolina.

Our state has an implied consent law, which means that if law enforcement officers ask you to take a breathalyzer, refusal can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

However, you CAN refuse the roadside breathalyzer and other field tests and, instead, wait until they bring you to the police station for a formal breathalyzer test or other chemical testing. Calling your criminal defense attorney immediately can help you fight for your rights from the beginning!

While at the station, law enforcement may also test your blood alcohol concentration for the presence of another controlled substance if you seem otherwise intoxicated.

Facing DUI charges in other states is a very similar experience to facing DWI charges in NC. DWI and DUI both refer to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is no discernable difference between DUI and DWI in North Carolina. DUI and DWI may both bring time in jail and other serious consequences for driving while intoxicated.

Is a DWI the Same As a DUI Charge?

While most states have blood alcohol content laws to prevent driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, each state varies in the exact factors that lead to arrest. North Carolina state traffic laws provide a blood alcohol content BAC limit of .08 for non-commercial drivers.

This limit is lower for school bus and commercial drivers (.04 BAC) and underage drivers (.00 BAC). However, other factors may play a part in whether you face charges with a DWI. Even if your BAC is under the legal limit, if law enforcement officers can prove that driving under the influence affected your ability to drive well, you may still face arrest and can be convicted.

What Can Happen to My Car Insurance Rates with DWI/DUI Charges

If convicted of DWI in North Carolina, your car insurance rates will likely go up. Your auto insurance company looks at high-risk drivers differently. As someone driving under the influence, they may raise your rates to 340% more than before your conviction! They may even cancel your policy after a DWI conviction.

Additionally, you may face state law requiring driver’s license suspension! The severity of the consequences you may face is why it’s best to talk to an attorney about options. They may help you avoid revocation of driving privileges by negotiating for an ignition interlock device or other solutions.

It’s also important to know that an impaired driving charge can stay on your driving record for many years and affect future job prospects, loan applications, etc.

It’s in your best interest to get legal help as soon as possible if you face charges for Driving While Impaired in North Carolina.

If you face DWI/DUI charges, an experienced DWI attorney can help you consider your options.

What are the Other Penalties for DWI?

The penalties for DWI in North Carolina vary depending on the circumstances of each case. Generally speaking, as a driver facing a first-time DWI, you can face consequences, including:

  • Court costs and fines
  • Substance abuse assessment
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Loss of license or limited driving privileges (revocation or suspension of driver’s license)
  • Community service
  • Probation or jail time, including a “minimum jail sentence” with prior convictions
  • Professional license revocation
  • Other motor vehicle offense charges, including dangerous driving or other more serious charges
  • License suspension of one year for a first offense or four years for a second
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
  • Wearing a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring System on your person

If you are in an accident at the time of your DWI and caused injury or death, you can face other criminal charges in addition to your DWI/DUI conviction. While you may face misdemeanor DWI charges, you could also face felony charges for causing death or serious injury.

Our Experienced Raleigh, NC DWI Attorneys Can Help

If you or someone you know is facing DWI charges in North Carolina, contact our experienced DWI criminal defense attorneys for help navigating the judicial process with fewer consequences.

We understand how to fight for your legal rights and defend your position in court and are committed to helping you understand the charges you face, their penalties, and your rights.

Contact Scharff Law Firm today for a free case evaluation and learn how we can help keep your criminal record clean and your driving privileges intact.