What Is A DWI?

As you probably already know DWI stands for Driving While Impaired.  In North Carolina this is the charge people get for drunk driving or for driving after using some sort of illegal or prescription drug.

The actual law reads like this:

 § 20-138.1. Impaired driving. 

(a) Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or

(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or

(3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.

So….what does all that mean exactly?

In plain English, it means that in order to be convicted of DWI the police and prosecutor have to prove in court three things:  

  1. That you were driving a vehicle, 

  2. On a street or public vehicular area,  

  3. While you were impaired. 

Now, there are many ways to prove those three things.  But, at the end of the day, the prosecutor must prove to a judge or jury all three things beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sometimes it can be simple for the prosecutor to prove all three things.  But sometimes not.  It all depends on the facts of your case.

All three of those “elements” listed above has its own very specific meaning.  In other words, what it means to “drive a vehicle” for purposes of a DWI can be actually driving a car or it can mean sitting in the driver’s seat of the car while it’s parked.  Likewise, a “public vehicular area” can mean more than just a street or road.  Surprisingly, a private parking lot can sometimes count as a “public vehicular area” for a DWI.  And, of course, “impairment” has its own special definition for the DWI law.  Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can cause “impairment.”

For more information about what it means to “drive a vehicle” for purposes of a DWI see the blog post on this website titled “What It Does It Mean To Drive A Vehicle For A DWI?”.

For more information about what it means to be “impaired” for purposes of a DWI see the blog post on this website titled “What It Does It Mean To Be Impaired For A DWI?”.

If you’ve been charged with DWI and have questions similar to these the best thing you can do is hire a former DWI prosecutor.  As a former DWI prosecutor I know the answers to your questions and the inside legal knowledge to help you win your case.  I’m available 24 hours a day/365 days a year to take your call.  My number is (919) 886-7506.