According to The Charlotte Observer, the operator of a vehicle is considered a drunk driver if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC legal limit in North Carolina is just 0.04%. Contrary to what many people believe, even without a BAC test, a police officer may still charge a driver with a DUI or DWI if they are “appreciably impaired.” A DWI is considered a misdemeanor and may lead to jailtime ranging from 24 hours to 2 years or fines of $200 to $4,000.
Business Insider notes that more drivers may face these penalties due to a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that allowed police officers to administer breathalyzer tests without a warrant. This ruling affected existing laws in 11 states. Many professionals believe that criminalizing the refusal of a chemical test is a violation of a person’s rights. Also, drivers often refuse breathalyzer tests anyway, believing that the criminal penalties for refusing the test may prove less lifechanging than having a DWI on their record.
Some professionals put forward that there are far more effective ways to combat the issue of impaired driving than creating more criminals. After all, people caught driving drunk once often do re-offend, especially if they have a substance abuse problem. Take away their license and the next time a cop pulls them over, the charge may be driving on a suspended license or without a license. If they cause an accident, they may be uninsured, creating a legal and financial problem for the victims involved.
Thus, a more effective measure may include provisions for rehabilitation or other potential treatments for substance abuse. This may help to treat one underlying problem that many people with DWIs struggle with.