In North Carolina, in order to be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), the State has the burden to prove that all of the elements of DWI have been met beyond a reasonable doubt.  The three elements the State must prove include:joe-wine glass

  1. A vehicle was being driven
  2. The vehicle was being driven on a street, highway, or public vehicular area; and
  3. The defendant had any amount of a Schedule I substance in his or her system, or had a BAC or .08 at a relevant time after driving to show alcohol had been consumed during or prior to driving, or the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of an impairing substance such that the person’s bodily or mental facilities had been appreciably impaired at the time of driving.

The major question here is: what is meant by the term “appreciably impaired” in the statute?

The case of State v. Harrington has defined what the term “appreciable impairment” means in the DWI context.  Appreciably impaired is not necessarily defined as falling down drunk, or similar gross impairment; it is defined as “noticeably and measurably intoxicated,” meaning it is visible, and can be registered on the breath-test.

The majority of DWI cases will illustrate evidence to show that a defendant’s BAC was .08 or above following the arrest; the .08 or above being enough proof of impairment.  However, if this evidence is not available, it is possible the State may still be able to obtain a conviction if there is evidence to show that the defendant was appreciably impaired.  This is usually shown through police testimony.

If you have been charged with a DWI offense in North or South Carolina, contact the law offices of Robert J. Reeves, P.C. for a confidential consultation toll-free at 877-374-5999 and for more help with your case.