Watching football is a popular pastime in North Carolina and throughout the country. Get-togethers at sports bars, rowdy tailgate parties and drinking at the game increases the chances that people will get behind the wheel while intoxicated. The laws surrounding driving under the influence are strict in the state, and the penalties, both short- and long-term, can be severe.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the state may consider a DWI to be a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony conviction occurs for those who have had three or more DWI convictions in the past seven years. The penalties include a minimum one-year prison sentence as well as participation in a substance abuse program.

There are five levels of misdemeanors, and the penalties include:

  • Fines ranging from $200 to $4,000
  • Minimum jail time ranging from 24 hours to 30 days
  • Possible community service ranging from 24 to 72 hours

Level 1 and 2 are the most severe, and these are for repeat offenders, revoked license holders or impaired drivers who harmed someone else or were transporting children. The judge cannot suspend a minimum sentence for offenders in either of these levels.

Because the consequences of driving while intoxicated are so severe, it is important that people understand the importance of not getting behind the wheel. Because alcohol affects everyone differently, anyone who plans on drinking before or during a game should plan on someone else driving who is sober. However, for those who find themselves facing the option of drinking, the Stanford Office of Alcohol Policy and Education discusses different factors that affect the metabolism of alcohol to keep the BAC within the legal limits. 

Men, in general, can drink more than women. Take advantage of the food available, especially high-protein ones such as cheese, chicken wings and burgers, to help slow down absorption. It is also best to sip a drink slowly. Chugging or taking shots will more than likely cause the BAC to rise dramatically. People who are taking any type of medication should skip drinking entirely.