Criminal DefenseDWITraffic LawI got charged with Driving While Impaired but I wasn’t drinking!

February 18, 2018by rjshooklaw0

In North Carolina, you can be charged with driving while impaired, even if you weren’t drinking alcohol. Often times this happens when there are drugs in the drivers system, but there are also medical conditions that can mimic impairment. A well trained police officer will be able to tell the difference between someone who is impaired by drugs and someone with a medical condition, but many times, the police get it wrong.

North Carolina’s driving while impaired statute is laid out in G.S. 20-138.1 and reads as follows:

§ 20-138.1.  Impaired driving.

(a) Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or

(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or

(3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.

Section (a)(3) deals specifically with Schedule I controlled substances. In North Carolina, Schedule I controlled substances are those which have a high potential for abuse and have no medical use. Schedule I includes many substances, but the most commonly abused are GHB, Ecstasy, Methaqualone, Peyote, and Opiates. If any amount of these Schedule I substances is found in a driver’s blood, they may be convicted of DWI.

Section (a)(1) is much more broad. A driver with a sufficient amount of any drug in their system which impairs their mental or physical faculties may be convicted of DWI. This is known as the “appreciable impairment” standard, and can even include drugs for which you hold a prescription, taken in the prescribed amount. If you have been charged with DWI, even though you weren’t drinking alcohol, an experienced attorney can help. Attorney Shook has defended hundreds of driving while impaired cases, many of which involved drug impaired driving. If you’ve been charged with DWI, give us a call; we can help!


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