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What are the penalties associated with a DWI in North Carolina?

Individuals in North Carolina who face drunk driving charges may be subject to significant penalties that will have significant and numerous personal and professional ramifications. After a DUI conviction the ripple-effect of consequences is set in motion and can quickly result in an individual losing his or her job, motor vehicle and freedom. Additionally, A DUI conviction is likely to negatively affect an individual's personal relationships and create financial hardships.

Many North Carolinians know that state's DWI laws and penalties are among the most punitive in the country. But most don't know the specific penalties and fines associated with a first or second DWI conviction.

A DWI carries with it significant monetary fines the exact costs of which depend largely on the number of DWI offenses an individual has and the punishments and penalties associated with a conviction. For example, fines related to a first or second DWI offense typically run between $200 and $4,000. There are, however, numerous other DWI-related expenses including lost wages, transportation costs, insurance premium increases, court fees and treatment fees. 

In addition to the financial burdens associated with a DWI conviction, each offense carries specific penalties. An individual convicted of a first DWI offense will lose his or her driver's license for 12 months and may be sentenced to perform community service or serve from one day to two years in jail. Additionally, for three years following a first DWI conviction, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is lowered to 0.04, making a second conviction more likely.

An individual convicted of a second DWI may have their driver's license revoked for up to four years after which their BAC level cannot exceed 0.0. Additionally, he or she will face anywhere from seven days to two years behind bars. Once an individual's driver's license is reinstated, he or she must install and use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for three years. 

Individuals facing DWI charges would be wise to contact an attorney. A criminal defense attorney who handles DWI matters may be successful in having criminal charges dismissed or penalties and fines significantly reduced. 

North Carolina Department of Transportation, "Booze It & Lose It," 2014

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