Can I be charged with DWI even though I blew less than 0.08? Yes, North Carolina General Statute 20-138.1 states that a person may be charged with DWI if they operate a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while under the influence of an impairing substance OR with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher at any relevant time after driving.
So, this means the law governing DWI's in NC covers offenses both above and below a blood alcohol concentration of .08. The State may attempt to prove a case of DWI without any blood alcohol content at all, by proving "appreciable impairment." This means that they must prove that your physical and mental faculties were appreciably impaired by alcohol or another impairing substance like marijuana, cocaine or prescription drugs. The good news is it is much more difficult for the State to prove a case without a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Blood alcohol content also can impact the level of DWI at sentencing. DWI's are broken down into 6 classes of severity which are measured based on "mitigating" and "aggravating" factors. A blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher is considered an aggravating factor. A BAC of .15 or higher also triggers the ignition interlock requirement through DMV. The worst level DWI is an Aggravated level 1, which is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment. For a Aggravated level 1 punishment, the court must find 3 "grossly aggravating factors" such as serious injury caused by the impaired driving, prior DWI within 7 years or having a child under the age of 18 in the car at the time of offense. The lowest level, level 5, has a maximum punishment of 60 days imprisonment with the minimum punishment being 24 hours of community service.
A DWI can be very costly and has long-standing repercussions on your permanent record. It is important that you put yourself in a position to best fight for your interests.
If you were charged with DWI in Wake County, call the Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a no-cost consultation. Our attorneys, Wiley Nickel and Kristi Haddock have experience fighting DWI charges and are ready to help. Our office is located in Cary, near the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Weston Parkway.