Last Updated on May 25, 2016 by Morris Green
You drink, you drive, and you get arrested for a DWI. Is that all there is to know about DWI arrests in North Carolina? Hardly. While drinking, driving, and getting caught are the basics, there is a lot more to know about DWI arrests. Let’s start with a bit of trivia.
You’ve heard of DWIs, but you’ve also heard of DUIs. Is there a difference? Yes and no. The primary difference between them is wording:
- DUI is short for driving under the influence.
- DWI is short for driving while impaired.
Both refer to the illegal act of driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. In some states, a DUI is a lesser charge. North Carolina is a zero tolerance state, and there is no distinction between a DUI and a DWI, which means there is no “lesser” charge. If a driver’s blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, they’ve committed a crime by operating a vehicle and will be charged.
Drunk Driving Scenarios
Did you know that in North Carolina, you can be arrested and charged with a DWI in a non-moving or parked vehicle? You can even be charged if you ride a bike while under the influence. So just what constitutes a drunk driving scenario? Let’s consider four:
- The BAC Scenario: The first and most obvious drunk driving scenario that leads to a DWI charge is that of operating a motor vehicle on a public street, a highway, or in a public vehicular area while your blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08%. This scenario also applies to driving or operating a commercial motor vehicle.
- The Under Influence Scenario: In North Carolina, you can also be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while drugs and/or alcohol impair either or both of your mental and physical abilities even if your BAC does not meet the 0.08% limit.
- The Parked Scenario: You drank too much and were arrested for a DWI even though you in a non-moving vehicle that was in park. Is that even legal? In North Carolina, yes! Any person under the influence of or impaired by drugs and/or alcohol can be arrested and charged with a DWI if a vehicle is under their control. Just sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car with the motor running puts you at risk of arrest.
- The Bike Scenario: What if you bicycle to the bar, get hammered, and try to bicycle your way back home? Under the DWI statute in North Carolina, a person must be “driving a vehicle” to risk arrest, and a bike is considered a vehicle for DWI purposes. Despite the fact that it doesn’t have a motor, it is still driven.
North Carolina takes its zero tolerance for drunk driving outlook very seriously. Don’t risk it! If you’re planning on consuming alcohol, arrange for a designated driver to drive. And remember that paying for a taxi on one occasion is cheaper than the fines and fees associated with a DWI charge.