North Carolina DWI Law and Explanation

Under the North Carolina code, a DWI is detailed in § 20‑138.1, under the heading of Impaired Driving. In order to prove that you committed a DWI, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Drove a vehicle on “any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area” within the state
  • While under the influence of any impairing substance
  • After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he or she has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration
  • With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in the individual’s blood or urine.

The State must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Element 1 requires that the government prove that you actually drove a vehicle, and that it was on a public area within the state of North Carolina. If your car is parked at the time the police officer approaches your vehicle, for example, the government may not be able to prove that you were actually driving. While the judge or jury can infer that you were driving from surrounding circumstances, the burden rests on the government alone to prove that you were, in fact, driving a vehicle in a public area.

Elements 2, 3, and 4 require that the government prove impairment by alcohol or other drugs through one of several available methods, which may include field sobriety tests, chemical analysis of breath or blood, and other observations made by arresting officers. No single factor, even a BAC (blood alcohol content/concentration) result from a chemical analysis of your breath of .08 or higher, is in and of itself sufficient to support a conviction. Each factor can potentially be challenged by a skilled defense attorney, and in some cases, a DWI charge can be beaten even when the case looks bad at first glance. Every case is different, and you would be well-advised to consult a local, licensed attorney to evaluate the facts in your particular case.