Raleigh, NC- This holiday season will mark one of the busiest North Carolina roads have seen in some time. AAA estimates that 2,826,500 North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more to visit with family and friends over the extended Christmas break.

There will be more cars on the state’s highways and roads, which also means there will be more drunken drivers. Law enforcement agencies across the country ramp up their efforts to catch drunken drivers over the holiday and North Carolina is no different.

The “Booze It is Loose It” campaign got began on December 13th and will continue through January 5th. These holiday crackdowns are marked by increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints.

What are the Consequences of Driving While Intoxicated?

North Carolina uses a scale to for DWI penalties which are dictated by the mitigating circumstances a of a person’s arrest, such as their level of intoxication. For example, a person caught driving under the influence with a child in their car might qualify for a level 1 offense. A person who was charged with a DWI but their blood alcohol level was barely over the legal limit– .08 in North Carolina—they may be facing a level 5 offense. Level 1 offense require the most punitive penalties and fines.

Criminal penalties for drunken driving in the state vary for level 1 through 5 offenders. The state does not impose mandatory minimum jail sentences, but individual judges are given the discretion to sentence a person to jail for one day up to three years depending in the level of their offense.

The fines first DUI offenders face can range from $200 to $1000 for level 3 through 5 offenses. These fines don’t include court costs, license reinstatement, ignition interlocks (if required), and alcohol awareness education.

After being charged with a DWI, a North Carolina driver can have their license suspended for a minimum of thirty days. It is possible to have a license reinstated with limited driving privileges after 10 days.

Some offenders can have their license reinstated but will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. These devices prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC is over .08 and the driver is required to blow into the device after they have been driving several minutes. Ignition interlock devices must be calibrated on a monthly basis which the offender must pay for.

A DWI conviction will stay on the person’s record for several years and can influence sentences if the driver is charged with a second or third DWI offense.

Refusing to submit to breathalyzers, blood tests and urine samples can result in the automatic suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for a year. And their license can only be reinstated after they complete an alcohol assessment program.

Drivers who make the mistake of drinking and driving should contact a Raleigh DUI attorney to help them with this serious charge.They can negotiate for a lesser charge or fight to prevent your conviction.