Most people know that the legal limit in North Carolina is .08, but in our state it is possible to get charged with Driving While Impaired even if your BAC is less than .08.
North Carolina’s Driving While Impaired statute is laid out in General Statute 20-138.1:
§ 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)(2) is the familiar .08, or “per se limit” portion of the law, but there are two other parts as well.
Section (a)(1) is often referred to as the “appreciable impairment” prong of the Driving While Impaired statute. In North Carolina, appreciable impairment means that the impairment is sufficient to be recognized and estimated. Impairment may be recognized and estimated by an officer using their training and experience, as well as the standardized field sobriety tests created by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Essentially, a court can find that you were impaired “because the officer said so.” An experienced attorney will know how to combat a conviction under appreciable impairment. Attorney Shook has handled hundreds of impaired driving cases, many of which are under the theory of appreciable impairment. If you have been charged with DWI but you only blew a .07, call our office today to find out how we can help you.