Many motorists may assume that the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) applies in all situations. Like most states, North Carolina observes federal guidelines when setting this figure. Yet, if you’re a commercial driver, underage or have multiple DWIs, you may be subject to different rules. And you may face extra penalties depending on your level of impairment. If you’re caught driving while impaired, it’s important to know which limit applies to you.

Understanding the limit

North Carolina, like 48 other states, considers a BAC of 0.08 the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. If you’re pulled over with a BAC at or above the limit, you will face arrest and misdemeanor charges. These charges become aggravated if you’re caught with a BAC of 0.15 or higher. And they could also receive this designation if you had children in your vehicle.

The state’s laws become more stringent if you’re a commercial driver. In this case, you must keep your BAC below 0.04. And North Carolina observes a zero-tolerance law for operators of school buses and child care vehicles. This rule also applies to motorists under age 21, whose licenses will face immediate revocation if law enforcement officials detect any alcohol in their system.

Considering the consequences

While DWI laws in North Carolina seem strict, they exist to protect other motorists. And it is important stay within the legal limit to keep them – and yourself – safe. But if you receive charges, you may find it worthwhile to fight them in certain cases. The breathalyzer used by your arresting officer might have had calibration issues. Or, they may have administered a field sobriety test improperly. No matter your BAC, it’s crucial to make your case in these instances. An attorney with criminal defense experience can help you do so.