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  • Coastal South Law

Important DWI Considerations in North Carolina, Part One

When it comes to Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges, North Carolina has some of the harshest penalties in the nation. Today, we will discuss a few areas of DWI statutes that are very important but often overlooked because the majority of DWIs in the state do not fall into these categories. It is not hard to see why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney with a vast amount of knowledge in this area of law is imperative in order for a defendant’s rights to be protected.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses

Getting a Driving While Intoxicated conviction is serious for anyone, but it is even more serious for those with commercial driver licenses (CDLs). Some may be more familiar with the term “Class A” driver license. Think of all the semi-trucks we see on the interstate while making our morning and evening commutes. While for most drivers the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration below 0.08, for those with CDLs, they are held to a much stricter standard and must be below 0.04. The first offense results in a loss of their commercial driver license for one year, and the second offense revokes it for life. For these drivers, even a first offense can result in the loss of their jobs. North Carolina has a zero tolerance for child care vehicle drivers and school bus drivers.


Many younger drivers believe if they are pulled over and refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, then the officer will not charge them with a DWI because they will not be able to determine their blood alcohol content. Unfortunately, this is a myth. Drivers are punished simply for refusing to take the test. A refusal results in a 30-day driver license revocation. You are allowed to have an administrative hearing regarding the refusal. If the hearing is lost, then a one-year revocation is ordered. The other caveat to remember is that even if you win on the DWI charge in criminal court, you may still have to suffer through the year-long revocation if you lose at the administrative hearing.

Repeat Offenders

North Carolina has a statute which directly speaks to habitually impaired drivers. It is considered “habitual” if the individual drives while impaired and has been convicted of three or more offenses involving impaired driving within the last 10 years. Defendants who are found to have violated this statute, will be punished as a Class F felony and sentenced to a minimum active term of at least one year of imprisonment. And, unlike other sentencing portions of the DWI statute, this provision does not allow for the term of imprisonment to be suspended. The punishment, however, does not end there. In addition to the mandatory incarceration time, the defendant’s license is permanently revoked.

Contact an Attorney Today

There are many possible defenses for a DWI case. Were you recently pulled over for a Driving While Intoxicated or have you already been charged with a Driving While Impaired? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to fight for you in the criminal justice system both inside and outside of the courtroom. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone. Having a tough negotiator and litigator on your side can make all the difference. Pick up the phone today and call 910-253-0411 or visit us online at

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