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DUI & DWI in North Carolina

Did you know that even if you were arrested – or even convicted – of DWI in North Carolina, you may not be legally guilty. Some arrests, blood alcohol content, and trials are faulty. Because the consequences of a DWI are so intense, it’s in your best interests to consult with a North Carolina DUI attorney.

Take two minutes to read this article that describes:

  • North Carolina DUI Laws
  • North Carolina DUI Punishments
  • Potential DUI Defenses
  • North Carolina’s Other Drunk Driving and Alcohol Laws
  • How to Find a North Carolina DUI Attorney

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in North Carolina?

The North Carolina General Statutes contain North Carolina’s drunk driving laws.

Here are the North Carolina DWI laws summarized:

  • The BAC (blood alcohol content) limit for most drivers is .08.
  • If you drive a taxi, truck, school bus, or any other commercial vehicle, the BAC is just .04.
  • If you’re under 21 years of age, the BAC limit is .01.

What is North Carolina’s Punishment for DUI Convictions?

North Carolina holds a separate sentencing hearing once you’ve been convicted of DWI. At that hearing, it’s determined whether you should be subject to “normal” sentencing or whether there are grossly aggravating circumstances – aggravating circumstances or mitigation circumstances.

  • Grossly aggravating circumstances would be a prior DWI conviction within the last 7 years, causing serious injury, or drunk driving with a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle.
  • Aggravating circumstances would be passing a school bus, speeding over 30 miles above the posted speed limit, driving with a suspended license, etc.
  • Mitigating circumstances would be driving while only slightly over the .08 BAC limit, clean driving record, driving safely, etc.

The judge determines which level of sentencing is appropriate and may include ignition interlock and driver’s license suspension in addition to jail time and fines:

  • Level One (most serious) – 30 days to 24 months in jail and fines up to $4,000.
  • Level Two -7 days to 12 months in jail and fines up to $2,000.
  • Level Three – 72 hours to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
  • Level Four – 48 hours to 120 days in jail and fines up to $500.
  • Level Five (least serious) – 24 hours to 60 days in jail and fines up to $200.

North Carolina Drunk Driving Defenses

Our legal system has checks and balances to avoid innocent people being convicted and being sent to jail. Be sure to consult with the North Carolina DUI lawyer of your choice –

Potential DUI defenses include:

  • The police had no reason to stop you – there was no proper roadblock or traffic stop.
  • Proper arrest and detainment procedures were not followed.
  • Someone else was driving the motor vehicle.
  • BAC testing was faulty.
  • Your BAC at the time of the stop was lower than when later tested.

North Carolina’s Other Drunk Driving and Alcohol Laws

North Carolina’s Dram Shop Act
If a North Carolina licensed drinking establishment serves an underage person, the establishment can be held liable (up to $500,000) for injuries to third persons or the minor.

North Carolina’s Providing Alcohol to Underage Persons Law
If you give or sell alcohol to an underage person in North Carolina, you may go to jail, pay a fine, and perform community service.

How to Find a North Carolina DUI Attorney

A DWI lawyer will investigate and determine your strongest defenses and mitigation factors. To find a North Carolina DUI lawyer, you can search our website,, or ask friends or the bar association for a referral.

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