First DUI Offense Penalties in North Carolina

Rates as a “4-star” state by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), North Carolina is one of the leaders in the United States for DUI penalties and fines. While showing a few hiccups along the way, overall, the state has seen a steady decline in DUI statistics. MADD would like to see the state pass a mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) requirement for first time offenders, which would surely see those statistics improve further.

North Carolina DUI by the Numbers (based on 2012 statistics)

The state saw a significant decrease from 2002 to 2012 in both underage alcohol impaired fatalities and “of age” drivers. The “of age” driver change was a 22.7 percent decline while the under-21 change was 39.5 percent. Some of the more significant North Carolina DUI statistics are listed below:

  • 75 percent of fatal crashes involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher
  • 67.1 percent of all driving fatalities involved a driver with a BAC of .15 or higher
  • There were 402 fatalities overall, with 45 involving an under-21 driver
  • There were over 46,500 DUI arrests, with 388 of them involving an under-21 driver

BAC Levels for North Carolina

All states have a lower BAC level for drivers under the age of 21, but North Carolina has a ZERO Tolerance policy in place. This means that a chemical test revealing any alcohol in the system of a driver under the legal drinking age (most states have a .02 percent level) will be charged with DUI.

  • .04 percent for commercial drivers
  • .08 for drivers over the age of 21
  • Zero tolerance for any driver under the age of 21

Penalties and Fines for North Carolina First Time DUI Offenders

While many of the first time offender penalties are less than other states, repeat offenses are often left up to the discretion of the courts. This makes it very important for those charged with a DUI in North Carolina to avoid a conviction. Penalties and fines for first offenses are listed below:

  • 24-hour mandatory jail sentence with the possibility of a minimum of one year depending on the severity of the offense
  • $200 monetary fine
  • Minimum of 60 days and a maximum of one year license revocation

North Carolina is among the implied consent states. This means that anyone refusing to take chemical tests after a DUI arrest will have his or her license automatically suspended for a period of one year on his or her first offense no matter the outcome of the actual court case.

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