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How Long Does a DWI Stay On Your Record In NC?

North Carolina has one of the most stringent DWI laws in America. The state supreme court ruled that you can be convicted for driving with an alcohol concentration above 0.08%, no matter how much your ability to drive was impaired. 

The punishment for a DWI conviction is severe. But the implications of your sentence will last much longer than any prison time you serve and include everything from probation to community service obligations, depending on how things play out in court.

So, how long does a dwi stay on your record in NC? Our DWI attorneys at NC Law Talk are explaining how long a DWI stays on your record in North Carolina and its possible implications.

What Is The DWI Law In North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you are pulled over and suspected of DWI, you will be required to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC.

If you refuse the test, your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year. If you take the test and fail, your license will be suspended for 30 days. After the suspension period, you will be eligible for a limited driving privilege if you install an ignition interlock device on your car.

You will also be required to attend a DWI assessment. The DWI assessment will determine if you have substance abuse problems and whether you need treatment.

Although DUI and DWI are different charges in NC, their punishments are similar

The Penalties For A DWI Conviction In North Carolina

The punishments for a DWI in North Carolina depend on several factors, including your BAC, your prior record, and whether anyone was injured as a result of your drunk driving.

For a first offense DWI with a BAC of 0.08% to 0.149%, the punishment is a fine of $200 and up to 150 days in jail. If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, the punishment is a fine of $500 and up to two years in jail.

For a second offense of DWI, the punishment is a fine of $2,000 and up to two years in jail. If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, the punishment is a fine of $4,000 and up to four years in jail.

For a third offense of DWI, the punishment is a fine of $4,000 and up to eight years in jail. If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, the punishment is a fine of $8,000 and up to 12 years in jail.

If you are convicted of DWI and someone is killed as a result of your drunk driving, you will be charged with felony vehicular homicide. The punishment for vehicular homicide is a prison sentence of 38 to 160 months.

In addition to the fines and jail time, you will also be required to complete an alcohol treatment program and have your car equipped with an ignition interlock device for at least one year. Your car insurance rates will also increase dramatically.

How Long Does A DWI Stay On Your Record For Insurance in NC?

The results of a DWI can follow you for years, including when it comes to your insurance rates.

In North Carolina, your car insurance will remain high until you reach three years of being violation free. After three years without any further violations, you can check with your insurance company to see if you are eligible for a reduction of your DWI insurance.

SR-22 Insurance

Being charged with a DWI can result in an increase in your insurance rates, and if you are convicted, you will be required to have SR-22 insurance, which is a high-risk insurance policy.

The SR-22 insurance requirement will stay on your record for three years, even if you only receive a conviction for impaired driving.

How Much Does Your Car Insurance Increase After A DWI?

According to Insurance.com, rates for car insurance rates in North Carolina increase by an average of 321% over the rates for a standard liability policy after a DUI conviction.

This means that, on average, a high-risk driver in the state of North Carolina would have to pay $2880 per year for liability-only car insurance.

For first-time offenders, a few insurance companies do not automatically place drivers in the high-risk pool and force them to purchase car insurance. This will help your rate but does not mean you will be kept from paying higher premiums.

In short, for the next five to 10 years, you will be considered a high-risk driver by insurance companies. This will result in higher premiums and, in some cases, difficulty finding an insurance company willing to cover you at all.

How Long Does A DWI Stay On Your Criminal Record?

If you are convicted of a DWI, you will also have a criminal record that will stay with you for life.

A DWI conviction can make it difficult to find employment, housing, and loans.

It is important to note that even if you are not convicted of a DWI, the arrest will still show up on your record and could potentially affect your future.

The best way to avoid the collateral consequences of DWI charges is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. If you are going to drink, make sure to have a designated driver. If you are arrested for a DWI, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

The North Carolina Look Back Period

In North Carolina, the lookback period states that if you are convicted drunk driving offense, the state can consider convictions from the past 10 years when determining your sentence. The lookback period begins on the date of your most recent conviction.

In North Carolina, the lookback period for misdemeanor DWIs is seven years. For felony habitual DWI, the lookback period is 10 years. It is worth mentioning that North Carolina’s lookback period also considers DWI convictions that took place in other states.

Here’s how the DWI lookback period works in North Carolina:

  • If you were arrested for a pending DWI charge in violation of C.G.S. § 20-138.1, the criminal court would look back seven or ten years to add up offenses and increase your penalties if applicable.
  • If a DWI arrest occurred within seven years of the first DWI conviction, it would be sentenced as a second offense
  • If you had three or more prior DWI convictions within the last 10 years, you would face a habitual impaired driving charge as defined in C.G.S. § 20-138.5

Can You Get A DWI Expunged From Your Record?

If you are charged with drunk driving in North Carolina and the charge is dismissed or you are found not guilty, the conviction may be expunged. A person who has had charges dropped in NCGS § 15A-146 may apply for the records to be expunged as long as he or she does not have a felony conviction in North Carolina or any other state.

In 2012, the North Carolina legislature passed a law, NCGS § 15A-145.5, allowing for the expungement of a nonviolent felony and misdemeanor convictions if the petitioner had no other convictions and 15 years had passed from the date of completion of all sentencing requirements.

At the time, this statute allowed a person who had been convicted of a DWI to have that conviction expunged if they met the statutory requirements.

However, in 2015, the legislature changed that law by adding a provision that specifically excluded expungement of driving while impaired conviction. As a result, if you are found guilty of or plead guilty to a DWI in North Carolina, there is currently no way to get that charge expunged from your record. The only way to potentially have a DWI removed from your record is through a pardon from the governor.

How Do You Apply For A DWI Expungement?

To have an expunged DWI charge, you must file a petition in the county where your offense was first filed. The court clerk will give you all of the required paperwork and there is no charge for removing convictions. However it can be difficult because once submitted to NC's State Bureau Of Investigations (SBI), they will evaluate whether you are eligible for an expungement. 

When you petition to expunge your criminal record, it can take up to nine months for the process of elimination. The first step in this lengthy procedure begins with taking one's case before a judge and obtaining permission from them; after which returning everything into SBI custody until completion is reached.

This can be a lengthy and difficult procedure so it is recommended to take the help of an experienced DWI attorney to help you navigate through it. 

What Are The Consequences of Having a DWI On Your Driving Record?

There are many consequences to a DWI conviction, and it can affect your life long after you've served time in jail or prison.

You risk losing jobs because of your criminal record. If your license is suspended or revoked, the inability to drive means missing work, not being able to run errands, or taking your kids to school. 

Your criminal record is public, which means that even if you get an expungement for a charge that didn't result in conviction-a potential employer still might be able to see it. Landlords and neighbors will also have access since they often check databases before allowing someone into their property or neighborhood association - so make sure this won’t affect any future leases!

So, how long does a DWI stay on your record in NC?

Drunk driving convictions can have a long-lasting impact on your life. Not only are there criminal consequences, such as jail time and fines, but there are also social and economic consequences.

A DWI conviction can make it difficult to find a job or housing, and can even affect future relationships. If you have been charged with drunk driving in North Carolina, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

If You've Been Charged With A Drunk Driving Offense, Schedule a Consultation With a DWI Attorney Today

If you've been charged with a DWI, it's important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A DWI conviction can result in a jail sentence, and you may also be required to pay costly fines. The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C. offers free consultations with criminal defense attorneys who can help you understand the charges against you and develop a strong defense. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.