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What is the per se DWI law in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

When people think of North Carolina driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, they may imagine someone causing a crash. However, a large percentage of those accused of drunk driving in North Carolina did not cause a collision. Instead, their arrest was the result of targeted law enforcement efforts.

A police officer saw them swerving or driving too slow and pulled them over for screening. They then failed field sobriety or chemical breath tests, leading to their arrest. Many people facing DWI charges in North Carolina face per se or technical charges rather than accusations of actually causing harm to others.

What is a per se DWI violation?

Per se violations involve high blood alcohol levels

It is illegal and unsafe to drive while being aware that chemical intoxicants may have caused diminished driving ability. It is also illegal to be in control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the current legal limit.

Most drivers in North Carolina are subject to a 0.08% BAC limit. That limit is part of a per se statute, which means that reaching or exceeding that limit is a crime in and of itself. The state does not need to prove any secondary details, such as validating that the alcohol actually affected the motorist’s driving skills.

Simply having too much alcohol in one’s bloodstream is enough to justify criminal prosecution in North Carolina. Certain drivers, including those in control of semi-trucks and teenagers who aren’t old enough to drink yet, could end up arrested with a much lower BAC.

The good news for those accused of per se DWI infractions in North Carolina is that they may have several options for fighting their charges. Some defendants may have medical evidence that can raise questions about their chemical state. Other times, a criminal defense attorney could help prove that a traffic stop was illegal and keep the evidence gathered during that stop out of court.

Discussing the situation that led to DWI charges with a skilled legal team can help a defendant better evaluate their options for a criminal defense strategy. Those who familiarize themselves with state law can potentially find effective ways of fighting the criminal charges they face.

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