Everybody knows driving while impaired (DWI) is a serious matter.  But most people think that even if they get caught driving while impaired the first time, it only means fines, higher insurance premiums and losing your driving privilege for a year.

Consider this.  You leave work and go have a few beers with a friend.  You have had 3 maybe 4 beers but you feel okay and take a chance and drive home.  On the way home your spouse calls and ask you to swing by and pick up your 17 year old daughter from her friend’s house five blocks from your house.  You do.  Between your daughters friend’s house and your house there is a license check.  The officer smells alcohol on you and processes you for DWI.  You blow a .08, just above the legal limit.

If you are convicted you must serve 30 days in jail.  Regardless of your driving record.  Regardless of the fact that there was no bad driving.  Regardless of the fact that the judge, the district attorney and everyone in the courtroom feels bad for you.  Because there was a minor in the vehicle you will be sentenced as a Level 1 offender. The judge has no discretion.  (There is a way to serve only 10 days of the thirty if you are willing to wear an expensive bracelet monitor for 60 days that detects alcohol in your sweat). So you could be an officer in the army with an impeccable record, a nice family and you will be spending 30 days in a county jail with the general population.  This is the new reality of driving while impaired and there are plenty of other severe penalties that have been added in the past six years.  The North Carolina legislature is understandably serious about driving while impaired.  Don’t test them, but if you are charged seek legal counsel immediately.