A North Carolina DWI – or a similar conviction anywhere else – is a black mark on your record, a liability that can hamper efforts to make progress in life. Fines, community service, and even jail could result. For some offenses there will be an ignition interlock requirement. There is also the infamous job application question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
It stands to reason that you would want to erase any memory of your DWI as soon as possible. However, North Carolina puts up some barriers.
Insurance: 3 Years
If you have a DWI, your auto insurance rates will go up for three years. Note that nowhere are DWI insurance rates higher than North Carolina.
Lookback Period: 7 Years
North Carolina has a 7-year “lookback period.” That means that, for sentencing purposes, your DWI stays on your record for that amount of time. Any further drunk driving offense committed within seven years will be considered a second offense and liable for more severe fines and jail time.
Expungement: 15 Years
After a few years your insurance rates will have gone back to normal, and your driving record will be once again good, but the conviction will still haunt you. That could make travel, difficult, and might restrict the types of jobs you can apply for.
It is not easy to have a DWI expunged (entirely removed), but it can be done if the conviction is at least 15 years old and the offender’s subsequent record is free of criminal convictions. There will be hoops to jump through – forms and affidavits – but with the help of an attorney it is possible.
Because the victims of drunk driving cannot forget the pain they suffered, the state of North Carolina ensures that drunk drivers have a hard time erasing the memory of their crime.