When I first meet with a potential DWI client, we discuss the case, the process, and the potential outcomes. One of the things I emphasize is that, while it is legal to drink and drive in North Carolina (so long as someone is not appreciably impaired or above the legal limit), it is wise not to drink or drive at all, and especially advisable never to drink or drive if you’ve been charged with a DWI in the past.
There’s a twofold reason for such advice:
First, people are bad at estimating how much they’ve had to drink, and how that affects their abilities. They tend to minimize their level of impairment, and are often surprised if the breath or blood result comes back high. Consequently, they can easily find themselves in a situation where the second DWI arrest means a license revocation for four years and where they face between 7 days in jail and a year in prison (if a level 2) or more.
Second, while fatalities and accidents from DWIs have declined over the past thirty years, impaired driving remains a leading cause of accidents and deaths. Raleigh’s District Attorney has made clear through current and past prosecutions that, where the defendant has been convicted of a DWI in the past or has a pattern of impaired driving, the DA’s office will prosecute a DWI that results in a death not merely as Felony Death by Motor Vehicle, but as Second Degree Murder.
While a second degree murder charge does not always result in a conviction, the risk is tremendous to the defendant, with time in jail measured not merely by months, but by years or decades depending on the number of victims.
It is always a good idea to avoid drinking and driving. It is especially important to avoid such conduct if you’ve ever been convicted of a DWI in the past.