North Carolina DWI & Distracted Driving Laws


North Carolina DUI penalties

DWI laws in North Carolina

Drivers in North Carolina with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher, or under the influence or affected by alcohol and/or drugs, may be subject to these fines and penalties.

First offense

The first DWI offense is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. If convicted, you could face the following fines and penalties.

Minimum punishment:

  • Up to a $200 fine.
  • 24 hours imprisonment.
  • 24 hours of community service.
  • Any combination of the above.

Maximum punishment:

  • A fine up to $4,000.
  • Imprisonment of no less than 30 days or more than 24 months.

Additional penalties:

  • Mandatory revocation of your driver's license for one year.
  • Once your driver's license is restored, your legally allowed alcohol concentration will be lowered to .04 for three years.
  • For one year, you will be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle at your own expense.

If your BAC was .15 or higher:

  • All driving privileges immediately suspended for 45 days.
  • At the end of 45 days, a judge may issue a limited driving privilege which will allow you to drive to and from your place of employment, school, court-ordered treatment or substance abuse education and any ignition interlock facility.

Second offense

The second offense is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face:

Minimum punishment:

  • A fine up to $2,000.
  • Imprisonment no less than seven days or more than 12 months.

Maximum punishment:

  • Fine up to $4,000.
  • Imprisonment of no less than 30 days or more than 24 months.

Also:

  • Mandatory driver's license revocation for four years if you're convicted within three years of the first offense.
  • Once your driver's license is restored, your legally allowed alcohol concentration will be lowered to 0.00 for seven years.
  • Is a second offense occurs within seven years of the first conviction, all driving will be prohibited for at least one year and no limited driving privilege will be issued.
  • You will be required to have an ignition interlock for three years.

Third offense

The third offense is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face:

  • A fine up to $10,000.
  • Imprisonment for 12 to 36 months.
  • Mandatory permanent driver's license revocation when at least one of the prior convictions was in the last five years.
  • If your driver's license is restored, you will be required to have an ignition interlock in your vehicle for seven years.

Fourth and subsequent offenses

The fourth and subsequent offenses within 10 years are class F felonies. If convicted, you may face:

  • Minimum punishment 12 months imprisonment.
  • Maximum punishment is 59 months imprisonment and a fine.
  • Mandatory permanent lifetime driver license revocation with no limited driving privileges for at least 10 years.

Chemical test refusal in North Carolina

If you refuse to be tested when asked in North Carolina, your license will be immediately revoked for at least 30 days, plus the charging officer can require you to provide a blood sample for testing and you do not have the right to refuse.

The DMV could revoke your license for up to one year, in addition to the 30-day pretrial revocation.

DWI penalty source: North Carolina Governors Highway Safety Program and the National Conference of State Legislatures

Distracted driving laws in North Carolina

Prohibits drivers from using hand-held cell phone while driving

No

All cellphone ban

Only school bus drivers

All cellphone use banned for novice drivers

Drivers under age 18

Text messaging ban while driving

All drivers

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association


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