The hidden costs of a DWI in North Carolina

Many residents of North Carolina understand that driving while intoxicated carries many risks. These go beyond the statutory penalties for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content above the legal maximum of 0.08%. Many people do not fully understand the complete picture of their liability if they are charged with one of the many offenses related to driving drunk.

The basic penalties

The basic penalty for conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol is a fine and a possible incarceration. If a person is convicted of driving while intoxicated, the penalty can be a fine up to $10,000 and the cost of legal representation of a similar amount. Thus, an initial conviction for a DWI can cost $20,000 or more.

Secondary penalties

In addition to the direct financial penalties, a conviction for DWI can also require mandatory treatment for alcohol abuse, another cost that can run into several thousand dollars.

Administrative penalties

In addition to the criminal penalties, a North Carolina driver can face administrative penalties through the DMV. Unlike criminal penalties, these administrative penalties don’t necessarily require a trial and conviction.

A driver who is arrested on suspicion of DWI has their driver’s license suspended immediately. After that, they have 10 days in which to challenge the suspension with the DMV. Otherwise, their license is officially revoked after 30 days.

These penalties get worse with repeat offenses.

Other negative effects

A DWI conviction can also put stress on family relationships, especially if family members are injured due to the abusive use of alcohol. It can also hurt one’s employment prospects, as a conviction can show up on a criminal background check, endanger a professional license and have other effects. The administrative penalties threaten the livelihood of anyone who needs to drive to get to work, and commercial drivers can see their careers destroyed in an instant.

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