Whenever we talk to new clients in North Carolina, they tend to use the terms DUI, DWI and OUI interchangeably. When we try to explain what the differences are between the three, they tell us they had no idea they meant different things. That’s not surprising. There are seen some Asheville DUI defense attorneys that get them confused. Ironically, North Carolina is one of the few states that don’t differentiate between DUI, DWI and OUI.
Typically, the courts in most states refer to DUI when someone is arrested for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They may not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .08 (the legal limit). However, they are clearly not fit to drive safely. The reason these cases are referred to as a “DUI” is that the driver is not technically over the legal limit. However, as indicated by the drunk driving statutes, they are driving while under the influence of something.
DWI, on the other hand, refers to a situation in which a driver is clearly over the .08 legal limit. They take a breathalyzer and fail miserably. If someone blows higher than a .08, they are said to be “de facto” guilty of DWI. This means they were legally intoxicated. The reason some states make a difference between the two is that the courts will often let the defendant plead their DUI case down to a reckless driving charge. They can’t do that with a DWI.
Here, we’ll talk about the way North Carolina handles these different offenses. We’ll also briefly discuss the penalties in Asheville, North Carolina for each level of offense. If you have been arrested recently for a DUI in North Carolina, give us a call right away. You don’t have any time to waste.
North Carolina Treats DUI, OUI and DWI Exactly the Same
While the definitions of DUI, OUI, and DWI are different, North Carolina treats the same in practice. All the State has to prove is that you were either de facto guilty of DWI, or that you were driving while under the influence.
When we say that you can be found guilty of a “de facto” DWI, it simply means your BAC was higher than .07. Any other DUI or OUI simply refers to a case where your BAC wasn’t high, but you exhibited signs that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
With the drug epidemic being what it is, the courts in Asheville don’t particularly care what substance you had in your body at the time of your arrest. Of course, if you’re found with drugs or drug paraphernalia on your person or in your vehicle, there will be additional charges filed against you. However, overall, your DUI or DWI charges carry the same penalties.
What Are the Penalties for a Dui or DWI in Asheville, North Carolina?
Unfortunately for our clients, the North Carolina statute for driving while under the influence is very strict. In some states, you can walk away from a 1st offense DUI with nothing more than a few hundred dollars in fines and a suspended license. In North Carolina, the penalties for DUI, especially for subsequent offenses, are quite heavy.
Here are the penalties for different levels of DUI in Asheville. Keep in mind – your North Carolina criminal defense attorney will do their best to get the charges against you dismissed or at least reduced to reckless driving. However, if that isn’t possible, you’ll be facing the following consequences:
The first offense carries a mandatory driver’s license revocation of at least one year. In addition, you’ll be ordered to pay anywhere from $200 to $4,000 in fines. If the judge chooses to, they can sentence you to up to 24 months in jail. Finally, if your BAC was more than .14, you’ll receive even harsher penalties.
The second offense carries up to a 4-year driver’s license revocation. You’ll also have to pay $2,000 to $4,000 in fines and face up to 2 years in jail. If convicted of a 2nd offense, you’ll also have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a period of 3 years.
If you happen to be convicted of a third DUI within 5 years of a previous DUI, your penalties will be life-changing, you’ll be sentenced to up to 3 years in jail with a mandatory minimum of 1 year in jail. You’ll also have to pay up to $10,00 in fines. If you’re lucky enough to get your license back, you’ll have to keep the IID in your vehicle for at least 7 years after your license is reinstated.
Call and Speak With One of Our North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI or DWI in Asheville, you will be facing some pretty stiff penalties. North Carolina takes these offenses quite seriously. While they may not differentiate between a DUI and DWI, that may not be a good thing.
If you were below the legal limit of .08 but were still deemed under the influence, you’ll be facing the same penalties as someone who blew a .14. Thankfully, one of our Asheville, North Carolina criminal defense attorneys will be able to help.
Once you call and retain our services, we’ll reach out to the prosecutor right away to see what the charges are. We’ll see if they’re willing to reduce the charges to reckless driving or dismiss them altogether. While it is quite rare that they’ll be willing to do this early in the process, that doesn’t mean we won’t try.
The best thing you can do is stay calm and don’t talk to anybody about your case. You never know when someone may be trying to use information against you. Make sure you have an attorney by your side through what can be a very scary and confusing process. Trust that your Asheville DUI defense lawyer has your best interests at heart.