North Carolina DWI Facts & Info

The Safe Roads Act of 1983 in North Carolina, eliminated all of the state’s previous alcohol /drug -related driving laws and combined both types of charges under a one offense―driving while impaired, or DWI.

(BAC) blood alcohol concentration is the most utilized was North Carolina determines whether a person is legally impaired.

The table below list the minimum BAC by age to be considered legally impaired:

21 or Older: 0.08%
Commercial drivers (CDL): 0.04%
Younger than 21: Any alcohol concentration
Prior DWI: 0.04% *

Whether your physical or mental abilities are impaired by alcohol, drugs or any combination of both is a factor that will be considered by the State Attorneys offices when to determine your possible DWI Penalty.

*Any previous DWI convictions with a license reinstatement, lowers the BAC threshold to 0.04% or higher. However, this can also depend on your overall driving record and whether you were charged and convicted after July, 1, 2001.

Additional Drug and Alcohol Crimes
In addition to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, North Carolina Driving While Impaired laws prohibit:

Possessing an open container in the vehicle if the driver is or has been consuming alcohol.
Possessing an open or closed container in the passenger area of a commercial motor vehicle.
Assisting someone younger than 21 years old obtain alcohol. This includes buying or giving them alcohol, or lending an ID so they can buy alcohol.

How is DWI defined in the state of North Carolina? The controlling statute, NCGS § 20-138.1, is explained and examined below:

20‑138.1. Impaired driving.

(a) Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he or she drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or

(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he or she has, at any time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis may be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or

(3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90‑89, in his or her blood or urine.

Keep in mind that the State can also use what is referred to as “appreciable impairment” to make a case against you. Appreciable impairment is defined as impairment that causes the person to lose normal control of their physical or mental faculties or both. Examples of Schedule 1 substances include: opiates and their derivatives, psychedelic substances, depressants, and stimulants.