NC DWI Laws Could Get Even Tougher

There’s no two ways around it: North Carolina is tough when it comes to punishing DWI offenders. Compared to many states, the consequences of being convicted of a DWI in NC can be downright draconian. Many states don’t require a year-long license suspension for a first-time DWI conviction, and ignition interlock devices aren’t necessarily required if you’re convicted of a high-BAC DWI elsewhere in the country. It seems like every legislative session the General Assembly takes punishing DWI offenders to newer and higher levels.

Several bills currently in General Assembly have made it one step closer toward being new law. The “crossover deadline” occurred last week, meaning any non-revenue bill that had not passed one chamber of the legislature would not be considered during the rest of the current legislative session. Of note, some changes in DWI law are closer to becoming a reality.

Proponents of bill H31 are hoping that a driver will have a 0.00 BAC restriction on his license upon restoration after any DWI conviction. This change would apply whether it’s your first DWI conviction or your third. Currently, a first-time DWI offender would have a 0.04 BAC restriction upon his/her license being restored. The proposed change would apply to DWI offenses committed on or after July 1, 2016.

Proponents of bill H32 want to amend NC’s felony habitual DWI offender law to reduce the number of required DWI convictions from three to two. Currently, a driver who is charged with DWI can be indicted as a felony habitual DWI offender if he or she has been previously convicted of three DWIs within ten years. The proposed change would expose a DWI offender to felony habitual DWI offender status after his or her second conviction. This change would be effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2015.

A complete list of all bills meeting the crossover deadline can be found here.

I’ll keep an eye on the General Assembly, and update you as these bills continue their way toward becoming law.

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