North Carolina DUI Law Highlights: BAC Levels and Implied Consent (Table 1)
"Per Se" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
As of August 2005, all states have DUI laws that deem "per se intoxicated" any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent. This means that drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary.
"Zero Tolerance" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
All states carry "zero tolerance" laws that target drivers under the legal drinking age. These laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their systems (a BAC above 0.0), or with negligible BAC levels such as .01 or .02 percent.
"Enhanced Penalty" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
Many states impose harsher penalties on DUI offenders with a particularly high BAC at the time of the offense, typically .15 to .20 percent. DUI offenders with a BAC at or above their state's enhanced penalty standards will likely face additional jail time, harsher fines, and more severe driver's license sanctions.
"Implied Consent" Laws
"Implied consent" laws require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of DUI. If a driver refuses to submit to such testing, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver's license, usually for six months to a year.
North Carolina DUI Law Highlights: Selected Penalties (Table 2)
Note: Persons arrested for DUI will be subject to additional criminal law penalties not addressed here -- including jail time, fines, and community service. Such criminal penalties are typically more discretionary than those identified in this chart, and are therefore more difficult to accurately predict. Generally speaking, first-time DUI offenders can expect to incur a fine, and face the possibility of jail time. Repeat DUI offenders will incur harsher fines, and will almost certainly be sentenced to a number of days in jail. Penalties will be harsher still if the DUI offender was involved in an accident in which someone else was injured or killed.
Administrative License Suspension/Revocation
The Administrative License Suspension/Revocation penalties indicated here refer to minimum mandatory penalties imposed on drivers whose BAC is above the state limit for intoxication, or drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing. Administrative suspension or revocation of a driver's license is usually carried out by a state agency (such as a Department of Motor Vehicles), distinct from any criminal court penalties. Most states impose harsher penalties for second or third DUI offenses, typically defined as those that occur within five years of a prior DUI offense.
Note: the penalties identified here do not include variations for DUI offenders operating commercial vehicles, or drivers who have violated "zero tolerance" and "enhanced penalty" DUI laws (see Table 1). Most states recognize different sanctions for these types of DUI offenses.
Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment
Alcohol education and treatment/assessment penalties for DUI offenders can include mandatory attendance at DUI prevention programs, and assessment of potential alcohol dependency problems. Such programs are often made "conditions" of a suspended sentence or probation, meaning that a DUI offender can avoid jail time and payment of hefty fines if he or she completes participation in the program. This chart indicates each state's utilization of alcohol education and treatment/assessment programs.
Vehicle confiscation penalties allow a motor vehicle department or law enforcement agency to seize a DUI offender's vehicle, either permanently or for a set period of time. Such penalties typically apply only to repeat DUI offenders, and often the return of the vehicle requires payment of fines and significant administrative costs. This chart indicates each state's utilization of vehicle confiscation as a penalty for DUI.
A vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device measures a vehicle operator's BAC, and will prevent operation of the vehicle if more than a minimal amount of alcohol is detected (i.e. BAC level of .02). DUI offenders will usually be required to pay the costs of installation, rental, and maintenance of an ignition interlock device. This chart indicates each state's utilization of ignition interlock devices as a penalty for DUI.
Commonly Asked Questions And Answers
• Types of Cases Our Firm Handles
We handle many types of cases to bench and jury trials including DUI, Criminal and Traffic.
• We Think You Should Hire Us If:
You want a DWI lawyer who will personally handle your file and will be available for consultation afternoons, evenings and weekends. We will fairly evaluate your case and determine the most favorable course. We will not hesitate to go to trial on your case; that decision, however, will ultimately be yours.
• Our Firm Is Not Right For You If:
You are looking for a DWI lawyer who will only tell you what you want to hear. We will work with you to honestly assess the facts of the case.
• If You Want To Tell Our Law Firm About Your Situation You Should:
We personally communicate with you whenever possible. If Mr. Smothers is in Court when you call, you can leave a message. I personally guarantee you will hear back from me in 24-hours, or less - most often, much less.
• The Typical Cost To Get Us To Start Working On Your Case Is:
The cost varies depending on the allegation and facts of the case. A fee will be quoted at our initial consultation.
• Our Clients Will Tell You That:
Our level of experience, knowledge of the law, and personal familiarity with the judges, prosecutors, and system is a great advantage. In addition to our personal and regular contact with clients, availability and involvement with every aspect of the case bring the most favorable results.
• Our Philosophy On How We Approach Our Cases Is:
Depending on the type of case, we like to find out as much as we can about the facts of the case and talk to anyone who can help our defense. At that time we can discuss our options. The stronger our defense appears to the prosecutor, the better our chances are of getting a favorable result.
Assess your legal situation
An experienced defense lawyer can help you understand what you are up against and the fines you may be required to pay. A DUI attorney mostly deals with matters and knows the process inside and out – including options that a public defender may not tell you.
Explain the consequences
The consequences vary greatly from state to state and a DUI attorney will be able to explain how those consequences in your state apply to you such as (1) harsher punishments for those arrested with BAC limits over .08, (2) special laws for underage drivers arrested, (3) possible community service or plea bargaining, (4) overlapping jurisdiction of Courts and your state's motor vehicle licensing department to suspend or revoke your license, and (5) contingent license programs that allow you to use your vehicle to get to and from work.
Manage the process
Dealing with the motor vehicle department can be frustrating and time consuming. A lawyer can manage the process for you by completing the required forms; making phone calls; scheduling and/or representing you at a Motor Vehicle Department suspension hearing, and making other necessary arrangements.
Represent you in court
An experienced lawyer knows the ins and outs of the courtroom and may be able to obtain a lesser sentence for you if your situation and state law allows for it. Thomas W Smothers Attorney at Law proudly serves the High Point & Greensboro, NC and surrounding areas.
Don't know if a lawyer is right for you? Here are some general guidelines:
Definitely hire a lawyer if you already have several arrests and receive another; or if your arrest was the result of an accident or if anyone was injured; or if you are a professional driver whose livelihood depends on keeping your license.
Seriously consider hiring a lawyer if you've been arrested for a second time (in the same or another state) or were arrested with a BAC limit over double the legal limit as harsher penalties may apply.
You might want to hire a lawyer if you don't understand your rights, what you need to do, or the consequences you face. You also might want legal representation if you are in a profession (or plan to be) that requires bonding or in which any criminal conviction might prevent you from getting or keeping a professional license. If you don't know the requirements, then you need expert advice before handling the case yourself.