Common Myths About DWI

When it comes to DWI charges, there's a lot of misinformation floating around. These myths can lead to misunderstandings about the legal process, potential defenses, and the consequences of a DWI conviction. At Stowe Law Firm, PLLC, we believe it's crucial to debunk these myths to help you better understand your rights and the reality of DWI cases.

Myth 1: You Must Be Driving to Be Charged with a DWI

Reality: In many states, including North Carolina, you can be charged with a]DWI even if you are not actively driving. If you are in control of the vehicle, such as sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or within reach, you can still face charges. The law focuses on "actual physical control" of the vehicle, not just driving.

Myth 2: You Can’t Get a DUI/DWI if Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is Below 0.08%

Reality: While 0.08% is the legal limit for BAC in North Carolina and most states, you can still be charged with a DWI if your BAC is below this threshold. If the officer believes that your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs, you can be arrested and charged. Additionally, for commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol can result in charges. If you blow less than a .08 the prosecutors can try to convict you of DWI based on a theory of appreciable impairment.

Myth 3: Refusing a Breathalyzer Test Will Prevent a DWI Charge

Reality: Refusing to take a breathalyzer test does not mean you won’t be charged with a DWI. In fact, refusal can lead to immediate consequences, such as license suspension and implied consent violations. Law enforcement can still charge you based on other evidence, such as field sobriety tests, observations, and witness statements.

Myth 4: DWI Charges Are Minor and Don’t Have Serious Consequences

Reality: DWI charges are serious offenses that carry significant penalties. These can include heavy fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, increased insurance rates, and even jail time. A DWI conviction can also have long-term consequences on your employment, professional licenses, and personal life.

Myth 5: You Can’t Fight a DWI Charge

Reality: There are numerous defenses available to fight a DWI charge. These can include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests, and whether the officer followed proper procedures. An experienced DWI attorney can evaluate the specifics of your case and develop a strong defense strategy.

Myth 6: Prescription Medications Won’t Lead to a DWI

Reality: Driving under the influence of any substance that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle safely, including prescription medications, can result in a DWI charge. If a medication affects your motor skills, reaction time, or judgment, you can be charged with driving while impaired.

Myth 7: First-Time Offenders Get Off Easy

Reality: First-time DWI offenders can still face severe penalties. While some states offer diversion programs or reduced sentences for first-time offenders, the consequences can still be significant. This can include fines, community service, probation, and mandatory alcohol education programs. The presence of aggravating factors, such as a high BAC or an accident, can also result in harsher penalties.

Myth 8: You Can Sober Up Quickly with Coffee or a Cold Shower

Reality: The only thing that reduces BAC is time. Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or exercising does not speed up the process of sobering up. These methods may make you feel more awake, but they do not lower your BAC or eliminate the effects of alcohol.

Myth 9: DWI Charges Only Apply to Alcohol

Reality: DWI charges apply to impairment from any substance, including illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs. If a substance impairs your ability to drive, you can be charged with a DWI.


Understanding the realities of DWI charges is essential for protecting your rights and preparing a strong defense. At Stowe Law Firm, we are committed to providing accurate information and expert legal representation to help you navigate these challenging situations.

If you are facing DWI charges and need expert legal advice, contact Stowe Law Firm, PLLC today. Call us at 704-216-1950.