You could face harsh penalties if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina, which can include up to 36 months in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 for the most serious level of punishment. In addition, there are many other long-term consequences of a conviction. One ramification is that it may affect your ability to get admitted into college and other aspects of your college life.

What Is DWI in North Carolina?

College Student Working on HomeworkIt is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or public place while intoxicated in our state. Under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1, an individual can be arrested for DWI for the following:

  • They were driving under the influence of an impairing substance.
  • They were driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
  • They were driving while there was any amount of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin in their system.
  • If they are a commercial driver, they were driving with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.
  • If they are under 21 years old, North Carolina’s no-tolerance law would apply, and they could be convicted of DWI if there was any amount of alcohol in their system.

How a DWI Conviction Could Affect College Admissions

Being convicted of DWI can have an effect on a person’s ability to be accepted for admission by a college. This can be of special concern to seniors in high school and other young adults who are more likely to attend an institute of higher learning. However, individuals seeking admission into a master’s program, medical, nursing, or law school, and older adults trying to obtain a college degree can also have their plan impacted.

It is very likely that the college application will ask if the applicant was ever convicted of a crime. DWI is a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina and would need to be disclosed.

The policies of the university or college and the severity of the DWI charges will affect how the conviction could affect the decision of whether to approve an application. The college could make one of these decisions:

  • Deny the application. If the college has a strict policy against any convictions for DWI, they could deny an individual’s application. However, most do not have such a firm rule, especially if this is the first conviction for drinking when driving.
  • Consider the conviction. The most common effect of a DWI conviction is that the college admissions department would consider it when deciding whether to accept or reject the application. If a student is applying to a university that gets many more applications than spots available for the upcoming year, it is more likely that the conviction will negatively affect their ability to be admitted.
  • Ignore the DWI. Some colleges may have a policy of not considering a past DWI when deciding whether to accept a student.

Will You Be Expelled If You Are Arrested for DWI While in College?

It is unlikely that you would be expelled from college if you are convicted of DWI and it is your first offense. If you have prior DWI arrests, other convictions or were found guilty of a felony DWI crime, expulsion may be more likely.

However, you may be placed on probation, depending on the school’s policies. You could face expulsion if you are convicted of another DWI or other crime, violate the college’s rules and policies, or do not maintain a certain grade point average.

Can a DWI Conviction Have an Impact on Financial Aid?

Being found guilty of DWI could impact your ability to obtain a scholarship or financial aid. If you are already enrolled in college, you may have a duty to report your conviction and could lose your scholarship and financial aid. In addition, you may have to move if you live in campus housing.

Have You Been Arrested for a DWI in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing DWI charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer