Ignition Interlock Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina State SealWhen you are arrested for a DWI in North Carolina your license can be suspended in two different ways:

  1. Administrative. This only happens if you fail a breath test, or refuse to take one. Your license will be immediately suspended or revoked, and the arresting office will give you a temporary driving permit which will allow you to drive for 30 days to get your affairs in order. During this time you can request a hearing to challenge your suspension. If you do not request one, or your challenge is unsuccessful, you will have a restricted license allowing you to drive to certain prescribed locations such as home or school
  2. Judicial. This occurs when you are sentenced by a court after a trial or plea agreement

Your administrative and judicial cases are separate, and you must attend to both of them. It is possible to have avoid a DWI court conviction and still have your administrative suspension.

SituationJailFineSuspension
1st Offense10 days to 1 year$1,000180 days
2nd Offense1 to 5 yearsUp to $2,0001 year
3rd Offense1 to 10 yearsUp to $5,0003 years
4th and subsequent1 to 20 yearsUp to $5,0003 years
  • In ignition interlock required for 2nd and subsequent DWI offenses, as well as first offenses your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .15 or higher.
  • North Carolina courts will adjust the above penalties depending on the presence of mitigating or aggravating factors. Aggravating factors include reckless driving, prior DWI convictions, driving with a child under 16, driving with a suspended or revoked license, a BAC of .15 or higher, and causing serious injury
  • Mitigating factors include a safe driving record, low BAC, and seeking voluntary treatment

➨ Steps to Regaining Your License in North Carolina

Additional Resources

North Carolina Ignition Interlock

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