North Carolina has historically had strict laws regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI), and they have only gotten more stringent over the years. Here are the penalties to expect after a DWI conviction.

Fines and jail time

A DWI is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders and has five different levels. The lowest level of penalty is level five, which has a minimum jail sentence of one day and a fine of up to 200 dollars.

Level one and two are usually repeat offenders or have a complicating factor in their conviction such as transporting children while impaired. Level one misdemeanors have a minimum 30-day sentence that cannot get suspended and up to 4,000 dollars in fines. Drivers with at least three DWI convictions move up to the felony level with an absolute minimum sentence of one year.

Assessments and education

All of the conviction levels require a substance abuse assessment done by a certified DWI service provider. The results of the evaluation can mean additional requirements of alcohol and drug education or traffic school. If the driver refuses to take a breath test or the blood alcohol level measured over 0.14 percent, participation in a treatment program is required.

Revoked driver’s license

After a first conviction, North Carolina law states that driving privileges are taken away for one year. A limited driving provision may get granted only if the person:

  • Did not injure anyone
  • Gets a substance abuse assessment
  • Did not have a child under 16 years old in the vehicle while committing the DWI

Vehicle seizure

If a person gets caught operating a vehicle with a suspended license due to drunk driving and appears to be impaired at the time of the arrest, the car gets taken away immediately.  If the arrest results in another DWI conviction, the court orders forfeiture of the vehicle and it is sold to help support local schools.

In addition to the penalties listed above, a DWI conviction will result in higher automobile insurance rates. The seriousness of North Carolina’s DWI laws makes it critical to fight charges to reduce or eliminate the consequences of a conviction.