While the law in North Carolina states that a .08 or higher alcohol concentration is per se evidence of impairment as it relates to a DWI, a person can face more serious consequences criminally and civilly if the breath or blood reveals a result of .15 or higher. Four major consequences of registering a .15 or higher on a breath or blood test are as follows:
1. Aggravating Factor. For any person convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, the presiding judge will enter a sentence based on the presence of certain aggravating and mitigating factors. A .15 or above BAC is an aggravating factor, which might require the judge to enter a more severe sentence level (which could translate into more jail time, community service, or fines).
2. Forty-Five Day Waiting Period. For any person convicted of a DWI in North Carolina for the first time, there is an automatic suspension of driving privileges for a 1-year period. Many who face such a suspension are able to get a limited driving privilege that would allow them to drive to work, school, and other household necessities. However, for those convicted of a DWI that blew a .15 or above, such a limited driving privilege cannot be obtained until at least 45 days after the conviction.
3. Ignition Interlock. In North Carolina any person convicted of a DUI whose breath or blood indicated a .15 or above alcohol concentration is also required by law to have an ignition interlock system on their vehicle for a 1-year period, even if it is their first DWI. The 365 days of ignition interlock can begin as early as 45 days after conviction if the person is granted an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Privilege (LDP). However, if the person does not get a LDP, then at the point the driver gets their North Carolina driver’s license back, an ignition interlock device will be required to be placed on the vehicle for the first year after the driver’s license is reinstated.
4. Alcohol Assessment. During an alcohol assessment, a mental health professional asks a number of questions to make a medical determination as to how much substance abuse treatment should be required of the person being assessed. There are a number of different types of treatment that can be recommended, with the lowest treatment allowed being a 16-hour course termed ADETS (Alcohol Drug Education Traffic School). For any person having registered a .15 on a blood or breath test, the mental health agent cannot recommend ADETS, and instead must require some higher level of treatment.
If you have been charged with impaired driving and registered a .15 or above on the intoxilyzer, contact us immediately to discuss your case.