What is a DWI/DUI?
DWI stands for “Driving While Impaired.” It is a misdemeanor crime that carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and a $4,000 fine. There is a mandatory loss of your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in North Carolina ranging from 1 year to a permanent loss, depending upon your record. In addition, it is possible that your personal automobile insurance rates could increase up to 800 percent for 3 years following a DWI conviction. In North Carolina, there is no difference between DWI and DUI.
There are several elements to the crime of DWI
- A “driver” or “operator” is someone who is in actual physical control of a vehicle that is in motion or has the engine running.
- A “vehicle” includes every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway” (except for devices moved exclusively upon fixed rails or tracks). “Vehicle” does not include a horse, but does include a bicycle or lawnmower! “Vehicle” does not include an electric personal assistive mobility device, or any device which is designed for and intended to be used as a means of transportation for a person with a mobility impairment, or who uses the device for mobility enhancement, is suitable for use both inside and outside a building, including on sidewalks, and is limited by design to 15 miles per hour when the device is being operated by a person with a mobility impairment or who uses the device for mobility enhancement.
- “Driving” can occur on any “highway, street or public vehicular area.” “Highway” or “street” includes the entire width between property or right-of-way lines of any thoroughfare that is open to the use of the public as a matter of right for the purposes of vehicular traffic. “Public vehicular area” generally means any area open to and used by the public for vehicular traffic at most universities, schools, businesses, neighborhoods, federal property, beach driving areas, within or leading to a subdivision, private property designated as a public vehicular area, and other places that do not exactly meet the definition of a “street” or “highway.” In other words, you can be charged with a DWI for driving just about anywhere.
- “Impairment” means either a) consuming a sufficient amount of an impairing substance to be appreciably impaired, or b) having consumed sufficient alcohol to have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. An “impairing substance” can be alcohol, illegal drugs, cough syrup and/or prescription medications. A person is “under the influence” if his/her physical and/or mental faculties are “appreciably impaired.” Chemical analysis of blood-alcohol levels, by either breath tests or blood tests, is used to measure alcohol concentration. Breath or blood tests must be administered in accordance with specific state laws and regulations.
- A driver’s refusal to take a valid breath or blood test will normally result in a one-year civil revocation of driving privileges, with no limited driving privilege available for at least the first six months.
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