North Carolina DWI Consequences for Out-of-State Drivers

If you are visiting North Carolina, you should be aware of the traffic and DWI laws the state upholds. There are consequences to breaking these laws, even if you carry a license from a different state.

North Carolina DWI

DWI Laws in North Carolina

The legal limit for individuals over the age of 21 is a BAC of 0.08%. For commercial vehicle operators, it’s 0.04%. If you already have a DWI on your record, the legal limit is 0.04%. Drivers under the age of 21 must blow a BAC of 0.0%.

Penalties for DWI in North Carolina

Outside of North Carolina, the law of the state that issued your license governs, and you will face their penalties, as well as those in North Carolina.

If convicted here, one cost of the DWI is that your North Carolina driving privileges are suspended for one year. If you need to drive in North Carolina and your BAC was .14 or lower, you can get a limited driving privilege immediately, but that only covers driving in North Carolina.

If your BAC was .15 or higher, you can get driving privileges after 45 days into the suspension. This means you cannot drive in North Carolina for 45 days and will then have to install an ignition interlock device to get your driving privileges reinstated on day 46. The ignition interlock device will remain on your car for the rest of your one-year suspension.

For out-of-state drivers who do not want the ignition interlock device, even with a BAC of .15 or higher, you must be able to qualify for one of these two reasons:

  1. You don’t need to drive in North Carolina during that year, and you pay a reinstatement fee after the year is over to reinstate your North Carolina privileges and continue to be able to drive in North Carolina under an out-of-state license.
  2. You never apply for a North Carolina license ever. If you move and apply for a license in North Carolina, you will have the one-year interlock restriction apply and will have to install it before the DMV will issue your North Carolina license.

State-to-State Information Sharing

Most states share information about traffic violations and license suspensions through a national registry called the Driver License Compact. Once the North Carolina DMV reports back to the originating state, what happens to your license depends on your home state’s own statutes.

Like North Carolina, many states have a law that says if you are convicted of an out-of-state DWI, your license will be suspended by the originating state for a specified period of time.

For example, if you are licensed in North Carolina and are convicted of a DWI in New York, your New York driving privileges will be suspended for 90 days in that state. However, when your DWI gets reported back to North Carolina, the North Carolina DMV will suspend your North Carolina license for one year for the out of state DWI.

This process can take awhile to go through. So, even if you think you are in the clear when nothing happens for a year, you will eventually get a letter from the North Carolina DMV saying your license and driving privileges are being taken away for a year.

The stakes are high for driving while impaired, depending on North Carolina and your home state’s statutes. Contact our experienced North Carolina DWI attorneys as soon as possible if you or someone you know has been caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.