Going out to a bar and having a drink can be a relaxing treat on the weekend or after a stressful day at work. However, sometimes one drink leads to more, and an entertaining night out can be swiftly ruined by drunk driving. Those caught driving drunk in North Carolina face some of the toughest drunk driving penalties in the country.

Consequences for drunk driving

There are five levels of misdemeanor driving while impaired (DWI) convictions and a felony level conviction. The least severe criminal conviction can result in a $200 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Prior DWI convictions, injuring someone or having kids in the car can make the consequences of a DWI more severe. A felony level conviction, the most severe conviction, involves at least a year in jail and participation in a substance abuse program. However, dealing with a DWI is a two-part process.

In addition to dealing with a criminal case, those who are arrested for a DWI will also have to deal with driver’s license suspension, which is handled by the department of motor vehicles. Someone who has gotten his or her first DWI will have a suspended license for one year. A second offence will result in a four-year suspension and any additional DWIs will result in permanent driver’s license revocation.

Alternatives to driving drunk

Because the consequences for drunk driving as so severe, it is important to plan a ride home before drinking. Some alternatives to consider, include:

  • Taking a bus
  • Using a ride booking service
  • Hailing a cab
  • Sharing a ride with a designated sober driver

Even one drunk driving mistake can lead to severe consequences that can impact your life long-term. This is why is it is crucial to plan your ride home from the bar before you even start drinking. If you already face drunk driving charges, it may be appropriate to challenge your charges to reach the best possible outcome in court.