How Are Interlock Ignition Devices Used in NC DWI Cases?

Driving while impaired (DWI) has serious legal implications in North Carolina. Many states base DWI charges on an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, while North Carolina follows the common 0.08% BAC marker for determining impairment, an individual can also be charged with a DWI for driving under the influence of an impairing substance or if any amount of a Schedule I controlled substances present in his or her blood or urine.

North Carolina laws on impaired driving are strict. The law imposes license suspension even if your BAC was exactly 0.08% and it is the first offense. Suspension can be immediate, even before you have your day in court and have not been convicted. While you may eventually be able to restore limited driving privileges, you may be required to install an interlock ignition device in your vehicle.

Under North Carolina law, a court can restrict persons convicted of DWI to only operate a vehicle equipped with an interlock ignition system. Like the breathalyzer test used by field officers to establish a DWI, the interlock ignition measures the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of a person’s breath to identify impairment. Typically, the device will prevent the vehicle from starting if an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher is detected; but depending on the circumstances of the driver’s conviction, an alcohol concentration of 0.00 may be required to operate the vehicle.

North Carolina law requires an ignition interlock upon license restoration for drivers who were convicted of a DWI with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater, drivers convicted of another impaired driving and associated license revocation within seven years, and for drivers sentenced with an aggravated level one DWI. Usually, the duration of the interlock ignition requirement is determined by the duration of the license revocation or suspension. 

Even when the law does not require it, North Carolina courts have the discretion to impose an interlock ignition requirement. Violation of an ignition interlock restriction is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and will likely result in extended revocation or license suspension. 

If you have been charged with a DWI, the time to act is now. Contact an experienced DWI attorney immediately to ensure your rights are protected and that you do not waive any legal remedies by mistake. Attorney Jeremy Cotten has served hundreds of clients through Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties and is ready to meet with you to discuss your case. Reach out via our 24/7 online chat to learn more, or give us a call at 919-587-8544.

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