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Under certain circumstances when your license is revoked following a DWI conviction in North Carolina, you may be required to install an Ignition Interlock System (IIS) into your vehicle before you’re able to drive again.  The IIS is a device that is hard-wired into your vehicle’s ignition, which requires you to blow into a breathalyzer prior to operating your vehicle.  Each system will be coded with a specific BAC threshold, which is determined by the factors that led to the requirement in each case.

Generally, three different scenarios trigger the interlock requirement:

(1) Conviction for a DWI with a BAC reading of 0.15 or higher;

(2) Conviction for a DWI by a person with a prior impaired driving conviction within 7 years of the offense in the new case; or

(3) Conviction for a DWI in the Aggravated Level One (most severe) sentencing category.

In any of these cases, the North Carolina DMV is required by statute to place a restriction on your license after the revocation period ends, requiring the installation of an Ignition Interlock System.

If the IIS is required solely due to a conviction for a DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, the statute requires a BAC threshold of 0.04, which means your BAC must be less than 0.04 in order for the car to start.  If the requirement is triggered by either a prior impaired driving conviction in the last 7 years or an Aggravated Level One sentence, the IIS will be installed with a 0.00 limit — that is, zero tolerance.  In addition, if the requirement is triggered by a BAC of 0.15 or higher, and you are convicted in the same case for (a) driving a commercial vehicle while impaired, (b) driving after consuming alcohol or drugs while under 21, (c) any felony offense involving injury or death under NCGS 20-141.4, or (d) manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from impaired driving.


Raleigh DWI lawyer Ben Hiltzheimer is a criminal lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina, who represents individuals charged with DWIs and the full spectrum of misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation at (919) 727-9227.

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Ben is an experienced trial lawyer who earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was trained in trial practice at the nation’s preeminent Public Defender agency, the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, described by United States Attorney General Eric Holder as “the best public defender office in the country.”

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