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The state of North Carolina has various laws regarding a DWI, or driving while intoxicated. A DWI is treated the same as a DUI, or driving under the influence, would be in other states. According to the group MADD (mothers against drunk driving), the cause of 30 percent of all fatal car accidents can be traced to alcohol, and on weekends, that number climbs to 51 percent. Drinking and driving is a serious offense, and North Carolina assigns penalties for it appropriately.
Basic DWI Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina prohibits any driver from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol percentage of .08 or higher. The limit of .08 percent acts as a standard benchmark across the U.S. for an “impaired driver.” The allowable blood alcohol content for commercial drivers is .04 percent. North Carolina also upholds the “zero-tolerance” law, and minors, if found with any trace of alcohol in their system, may be convicted of a DWI, and will receive a driver’s license suspension for one year. Drivers who refuse any type of testing for alcohol or drugs will receive an immediate 30-day license suspension. North Carolina drivers agree to the “implied consent” law, meaning they agree to submit to chemical testing of breath, blood or urine if a police officer suspects they have been operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Penalties for Driving while Intoxicated
North Carolina has a somewhat complex process for determining the level of punishment given to drivers that received a DWI arrest and conviction. Generally, a first offender receives a 60-day license suspension in most cases, and must take part in a treatment or assessment program for substance abuse. Any driver who refuses to take a test of his breath, blood or urine receives an automatic one-year license suspension. First offenders may regain the use of their license once a substance abuse program has been completed, and an ignition interlock device may be required as well.
Other penalties for DWIs tend to vary a quite a bit, based on how an offender’s case has been classified. Cases receive a level 1 to level 5 classification. Fines for first and subsequent offenders range a bit, starting from $200 up to $500, not including any costs or fees for license reinstatement or completion of sentencing.
If a first offender did not have any minor child in his car when arrested, or did not aggravate his situation with a higher blood alcohol level of .15 or more, he will not be required to spent time in jail, unless sentenced to at the discretion of the court. In DWI cases classified as level 3 through 5 offenses, the court may suspend criminal penalties for individuals who perform approved community service.
North Carolina’s SR-22 Requirements
Drivers with a DWI conviction are required to carry SR-22 insurance in North Carolina. The court will order them to complete an SR-22 certificate, which is filled out by an insurance company, and filed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The certificate acts as a guarantee that the driver will carry the minimum level of liability insurance coverage. If the individual chooses to stop paying, or cannot afford to pay for his insurance, the insurance company is obligated to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles, and cancel the policy. Once the DMV finds out insurance has been canceled, it will immediately suspend the driver’s license. SR-22 insurance must be carried for three years, and if coverage lapses, the three-year period starts over, even if there are only a few days left in the original three-year period.
How much is Car Insurance after a DWI in North Carolina?
After a driver has been convicted of a DWI, he or she will need to carry a certain type of insurance for high-risk drivers, typically known as SR-22 insurance. Many factors are considered and weighed by insurance companies. They use complex algorithms to predict the likelihood of future accidents based on an individual’s background, and set prices accordingly for insurance coverage. The car a person drives, his age, number of points on his driving record and other factors help determine the cost of his insurance. After a DWI, drivers typically receive points on their driving record, which pushes the cost of insurance substantially higher, and a DWI in North Carolina will stay on the driver’s record for seven years.
North Carolina Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Drivers may find it challenging to purchase insurance after a DWI conviction. Many companies do not even provide SR-22 insurance, or if they do, the cost is prohibitive. Fortunately, many insurance companies actually specialize in high-risk insurance, and can offer SR-22 policies for affordable prices. These insurance companies typically complete and file the SR-22 form for the customer, before providing the insurance policy.
Once a driver has been arrested for a DWI, it may benefit him to hire an experienced attorney who specializes in DWIs, since the attorney may be able to get the conviction reduced, or at least get the penalties reduced. Any reduction in the driver’s violation can prove to insurers that he is less of a risk. This might make a substantial difference in premiums when shopping for insurance.
It is important for drivers to shop around and get several quotes when looking for DWI insurance, since each insurance company has its own formula for calculating premiums, and quotes may vary substantially between insurance companies. Additionally, any opportunity to combine the different types of insurance policies into one company can provide discounted premiums; and driving a car that is at least 10 years old will discount insurance even more. Consumers can start shopping for insurance and obtain multiple quotes in just a few minutes online. Get started and compare North Carolina car insurance quotes today!