Habitual Impaired Driving in North Carolina

3Habitual Impaired Driving in North Carolina

Driving while impaired or intoxicated is an offense that law enforcement officers take seriously. The laws and penalties are designed to deter people from driving while intoxicated. A DWI conviction could result in a sentence that includes jail time, fines, community service, alcohol education classes, probation, and suspension of your driving privileges.


The penalties for DWI increase substantially for repeat offenses. Habitual impaired driving will result in the revocation of your driver’s license, among other penalties. If you were charged with a repeat offense of DWI, it is important to actively fight the charges with help from an experienced DWI attorney in North Carolina.


Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “How can an attorney help me with my DWI?”


What is Habitual Impaired Driving?

North Carolina law (G.S. 20-138.5) states that a person can be charged with habitual impaired driving if they have previously been convicted of three or more offenses that involved impaired driving within the last 10 years. In other words, a fourth or subsequent offense of impaired driving is called habitual impaired driving. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety defines impaired driving as driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher or 0.04% and over for someone with a commercial license.


A habitual impaired driving offense applies to previous convictions in the previous 10 years, regardless of the jurisdiction where they occurred. The law states that any offense that is substantially like the latest one qualifies as a prior offense, even if it occurred in a different location.


Penalties for Habitual Impaired DrivingPolice-road-block-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-DWI-checkpoint-300x225

The penalties for habitual impaired driving are much more severe than for a first, second, or even third offense. A person convicted of habitual impaired driving will face penalties of a Class F Felony. First and foremost, you will be sentenced to 12 months in prison without the ability for suspension. Also, your driver’s license will be permanently revoked. Your motor vehicle will be forfeited to the state unless it qualifies as an exception.

It is important to note that the penalties for habitual impaired driving are not to punish prior offenses. You may have already faced serious penalties for previous DWI convictions that may have included jail time, fines, community service, probation, participation in an alcohol education class, suspension of driving privileges, mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, and more.

Any DWI charges in North Carolina are severe, and you will want to put forth a vigorous defense. If you already have one DWI conviction, you will need to carefully defend your rights with help from a skilled criminal defense attorney. It is best to meet with your attorney as soon as possible after the arrest to get the best chance of a successful defense.


If you are facing any type of impaired driving charges in North Carolina, you will want to fight them vigorously. Our experienced lawyers have the knowledge to help you resolve your charges in the most favorable way. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.



G.S. 20-138.5 (ncleg.net)


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