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  • Coastal South Law

Important DWI Considerations in North Carolina, Part Two

Last week, we began discussing several nuanced areas of the law surrounding Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges and convictions. We covered commercial motor vehicle drivers, refusals, and repeat offenders. Today, we will cover the equally important topics of underage DWIs, levels of misdemeanors, and seizure of vehicles. Again, having an attorney who not only specializes in criminal defense but also in the field of DWIs is essential in order to mount a proper defense.

Underage DWIs

In North Carolina, an individual is charged with a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than .08%. They can also be charged if they have illegal drugs in their system. However, the law is much harsher for those drivers under 21. This state has a zero tolerance policy for those under 21. That means if the driver is under 21, gets pulled over, and has ANY alcohol in their system, they could be charged with a DWI. Penalties may include driver’s license revocation, probation, jail time, AODA treatment, and more. The insurance of young drivers is already pretty high, but when they get a DWI, it increases immensely. These rules are especially important to keep in mind now since most colleges are back in session for the Fall and with football season in full force, many college kids are tailgating. Although several colleges are offering online options due to COVID, many students still chose to remain attending on-campus classes. This is the time of year when many college-aged students begin getting DWIs.

Levels of Misdemeanors

Last week we discussed DWIs that were felonies. Intoxicated drivers who previously had three DWIs in the previous seven years were charged with felonies. Misdemeanor DWIs fall into one of five levels, with Level 5 being the least severe punishment and Level 1 imposing the most severe punishment. Each level involves jail time, fines, and revocation of your driver license. As the severity increases, the longer the imprisonment and the larger the fines. The most important aspect to keep in mind here is that if convicted of the two most severe levels, the judge no longer has the option of suspending the minimum jail sentence. Offenses in these categories include when there are children in the vehicle or when someone is injured in a crash.

Seizure and Forfeiture of Vehicles

This portion of the law allows a police officer to seize the driver’s vehicle when the officer charges the individual with a DWI if their driver’s license was previously revoked for a Driving While Impaired. The cops take the vehicle immediately. But that is not the worst part; if the driver is convicted of the DWI and has his or her license was revoked at the time of driving for a previous DWI, the judge can order that the car be forfeited. This creates a massive hardship for drivers who have to get to their jobs and do not have access to public transportation. If your vehicle gets seized, call your attorney immediately. If you have ever had your vehicle towed, you know how expensive a storage facility can be. In this case, timing is critical.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you were recently pulled over for or charged with a DWI, regardless if your case falls into any of these more nuanced areas, call us today. Hiring a lawyer early on in the process can make an enormous difference in the outcome of the case. 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 910-253-0411or visit us online at

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