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North Carolina DUI Laws

North Carolina has only one statute for DWI/DUI and does not recognize a difference between the DWI and DUI.  By law, any driver operating with a BAC of 0.08% or above is considered intoxicated.  North Carolina also allows drivers to be convicted of DUI even if their BAC is below this level, or if they can be proved to be under the influence of drugs, whether illegal or prescription.  The state does not have an aggravated or enhanced DUI statute.  Instead, North Carolina has an extensive DWI sentencing scheme that requires the prosecution to prove the existence of aggravating or grossly aggravating factors and the defendant to prove the existence of mitigating factors in order to determine the appropriate sentence for a conviction.  Sentencing also takes into account the number of prior impaired driving convictions of the driver and time between prior convictions and conviction for which the driver is being currently sentenced.

Individuals convicted of DUI in North Carolina also face a wide variety of possible punishments.  If convicted, a driver will have his license revoked, possibly permanently, will receive at least one day in jail (possibly suspended), will be required to pay a fine, and will generally be required to seek substance abuse assessments and/or counseling.  Other possible penalties include probation, community service, vehicle forfeiture, and required installation of an ignition interlock device.

In most instances, conviction of a DUI in North Carolina will be a misdemeanor.  However, the presence of grossly aggravating factors that can be proved by the prosecution could result in the charge being elevated to a felony.

In addition to the penalties for a DUI charge, drivers may also be subject to other penalties under the North Carolina implied consent law.  Usually, this will be a minimum one year license revocation if a driver refuses to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing after he or she has been arrested.  Many issues can arise under implied consent law as the statute makes certain procedures in the administration of chemical tests mandatory in order for evidence gained from those tests to be admissible in court.


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