Your Wilmington DWI Case: The Basics

You and your brother are having a "boys only Sunday." That means no wife, no kids, no cell phones -- just you, a couple fishing poles, and a whole lotta beer. You go out to Cape Fear River and cast yours poles in. Several hours later you realize the fish aren't biting, but that's OK. You've sustained yourself on corn chips and cans of PBR. You really don't know how many you've had, but that 18-pack you had this morning is now empty.

Guess it's time to hit the road. You both hop in your jeep and then flip a coin to decide who is more sober. You win the coin toss, but are about to lose your license. As you pull out into the road, you are too drunk to realize there's a Mini Cooper coming down the highway. BAM! Car crash. Next thing you know, the Wilmington Police are on the scene and an ambulance arrives. You're going to jail. Here's some information about the DUI laws in Wilmington.

Wilmington DUIs are a Two-Part Process

Most people don't realize that when they are arrested for a DWI in Wilmington, they'll have to deal with two separate agencies: the North Carolina DMV and the Wilmington criminal courts. Why? Because the DMV will handle license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws and the courts will deal with a criminal case.

Criminal Charges

In Wilmington, here's how one can be charged with drinking and/or using drugs and driving:

  1. A person is driving and determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; or
  2. A person's chemical test result is 0.08%. BAC or higher.

Possible DWI Criminal Penalties

North Carolina's sentencing structure is very complicated. North Carolina DWI penalties are based on what "level" "of DWI you are charged with. The judge uses mitigating factors to determine your level. Factors include your BAC, prescription medications, your current driving record, and other aspects of your DWI situation and overall driving history. Your sentence will largely be based on whether you are charged with a Level 5 (least serious), Level 4, Level 3, Level 2, Level 1, or Level 1 Aggravated (most serious). Your penalties can include possible jail time, a huge fine, and other conditions such as a mandatory 1-year suspension of your driver's license. Offenders may have to submit to a Substance Abuse Assessment, complete all recommended treatment or education classes, and/or install an Interlock Device on any car they own or operate.

Your North Carolina License Suspension

Your Wilmington driver's license will be suspended if you are charged with a DWI.

If you are arrested for DWI and your blood or breath results are 0.08 percent or more, 0.04 if commercial motor vehicle, or under age 21 and the results are above 0.04, you will have your license revoked immediately for 30 days. There is a limited driving privilege available after 10 days.

Upon conviction of DWI for your first offense, the license will be revoked for one year. A limited driving privilege may be granted by the judge, but only if you didn't hurt anyone, didn't have a child under sixteen years of age in the car, and you obtain a substance abuse assessment.

If you pick up another DWI within three years of the first one, you can lose your license for four years.

How Do I Get My License Reinstated?

In order to have a license restored at the end of your suspension, you must go to treatment or school as recommended by the assessment.

Under 21 DWI in North Carolina

If you are under 21, don't drink or use drugs and drive. Why? Because a DWI is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Your first offense is punishable by one to 30 days of community punishment, and you may also be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Second, third, fourth, and fifth offenses are punishable by one to 45 days of community, intermediate, or active punishment. A judge may, however, punish you under the adult DWI laws.

You may be able to get limited driving privileges instated by a judge if you were at least 18 years old at the time of the offense and did not have a prior conviction.

The Bottom Line

Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation. Last but not least, anyone facing a DUI may want to consider speaking to a Wilmington DUI lawyer about their options.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.