Apex Counseling Services -
Important Information about
DWI Services
(Driving While Impaired)

If you have you been Arrested for DWI~

You may be feeling embarrassed, worried, remorseful, and fearful of what's to come. Very few people intentionally go out to drink too much and then drive afterwards. 

We at Apex Counseling understand what you are going through and we have the knowledge to ease the worried mind of people in situations like yours. If you want to get this embarrassing and costly matter over with and start the process of putting it behind you, then contact Apex Counseling immediately to schedule an appointment for an Assessment 

An Assessment is required by the State of North Carolina~

•  To get your Driving Privileges back faster: The law states that you can get
   a limited driving privilege 10 days after you have been charged with DWI 
   if you have an Assessment completed--
   Apex Counseling has daytime and some evening appointments available.

•  To have your driver's license reinstated following a Conviction:
   The law states that the completion of an Assessment and Counseling is 
   required to have your permanent Driver's License reinstated. 

Group Counseling is on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Rest assured that our Services are~

• Licensed and Certified by the State of NC, other States, and Internationally
• Approved by the Court, Probation, Employers, Schools, CPS, & others
• Accepted by most Insurance Companies for Reimbursement

Important Information about
DWI Laws

Driving While Impaired  Everyone’s driving is impaired at a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 percent, but many people are affected at much lower levels. Research shows that the risk of being involved in a crash increases when the alcohol level is 0.05 percent, and at 0.08 percent the risk of causing a fatal crash is even greater.

The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook  In 1983, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the Safe Roads Act. This act repealed all previous laws on drunk driving in North Carolina and replaced them with a single offense of “Driving While Impaired–DWI.” If an officer charges you with driving while impaired, you will be asked to take a chemical test of your breath or blood. Refusal to perform any required test will result in the immediate revocation of your driver license for at least 30 days and an additional, minimum 12-month revocation by the DMV. In certain instances, after six months of the willful refusal revocation has elapsed, the judge may issue a limited driving privilege. If your intoxication test shows a BAC of 0.08 percent or more (0.04 or more, if you are driving a commercial motor vehicle), your driving privilege will be revoked immediately for a minimum of 30 days. Additionally, the results of your chemical test or the fact that you refused to take the test will be admissible as evidence in court.

Driving while impaired can be proven in one of two ways:
•  Proving the driver’s physical or 
   mental fitness are appreciably 
   impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both
•  By proving the driver’s blood alcohol
   concentration is 0.08 percent or more

DWI Laws
1. Allow enforcement agencies to set up road blocks to check for impaired drivers
2. Prohibit drivers from consuming any alcoholic beverage, including beer, while 
    driving
3. Prohibit the transport of an open container of any alcoholic beverage, including
    the passenger area of the car
4. Prohibit the possession of alcoholic beverages (open or closed) in the passenger
    area of a commercial motor vehicle while upon any highway, street or public
    vehicular area
5. Provide for different levels of severity of punishment based on the severity of
    the offense
6. Require persons who are convicted of DWI for the second time to serve a jail
    sentence
7. Attempt to punish DWI offenders, but also try to help them deal with problems
    they may have with alcohol
8. Require anyone convicted of DWI to obtain a substance abuse assessment and
    complete a counseling program prior to reinstatement of driving privileges

If you are convicted of DWI
First conviction: Mandatory revocation of your driver license for a period of 
   one year
Second conviction: Mandatory driver license revocation for a period of four 
   years when convicted of a prior offense which occurred within three years 
   of the current offense for which the license is being revoked.
Third conviction: Mandatory, permanent driver license revocation if at least one
   of the prior convictions occurred within the past five years.
Fourth conviction: Mandatory permanent driver license revocation. The fourth
   conviction is considered a felony if the three prior DWI convictions occurred 
   within the past seven years.

DWLR  If you are convicted of DWI while your license is revoked for an earlier DWI conviction, the court may order your vehicle seized and sold.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Restrictions  A blood alcohol concentration restriction will be required when a license is restored following a suspension for DWI or when a Limited Driving Privilege is issued following a DWI conviction.On the first restoration, the alcohol concentration restriction will be 0.04. On a second or subsequent restoration, the alcohol concentration restriction will be 0.00. Additionally, if you are convicted of DWI in a commercial motor vehicle, driving after consuming alcohol or drugs while under the age of 21 or felony death by vehicle, the alcohol concentration restriction will be 0.00.
Furthermore, a conviction of Driving While Impaired with a BAC of 0.15 or more, or another conviction within the past seven years, will require an ignition interlock device to be installed on the vehicle.

Alcohol and the Young Driver  The legal age to purchase any alcoholic beverage in North Carolina is 21. It is against the law for any person who is younger than 21 years of age to purchase or to attempt to purchase alcohol.
The law requires a one-year driver license revocation upon conviction for:

1. Any underage person who attempts to purchase or purchases an alcoholic 
    beverage
2. Any underage person who aids or abets another who 
    attempts to purchase or purchases an alcoholic 
    beverage
3. Any underage person who obtains or attempts to 
    obtain alcoholic beverages by using or attempting to 
    use a fraudulent driver license or other ID or another 
    person’s driver license or ID
4. Any person who permits his or her driver license or
    any other ID to be used by an underage person
    to purchase or attempt to purchase an alcoholic 
    beverage
5. Any person who gives an alcoholic beverage to any underage person

Some Factors that contribute to the Punishment for DWI’s   In calculating a DWI offense in NC, driving records from all states in which a person has driven must be considered. Whether it is an NC DWI or DWI in another state, the prior DWI will be taken into consideration by the court or the DWI assessment agency. If a person receives a DWI in any other state, and gets another DWI in NC within 3 years, the NC DWI will be considered a second offense by the court. Habitual Impaired Driving: Receiving a fourth DWI conviction within a 10 year period will result in a conviction of Habitual Impaired Driving. This DWI is considered a felony and a minimum prison sentence of one year. The prison sentence cannot be suspended or shortened for any reason. Loss of Driver’s License is lifetime and cannot be reinstated at any time. No appeals are allowed by the North Carolina DMV for a conviction of Habitual Impaired Driving. The NC Legislature has changed the 10 year limit on 3 DWIs. In the new law passes, receiving 3 DWIs lifetime will constitute “Habitual Driving While Impaired.”

If you are convicted of Driving While Impaired in the State of NC  
A number of things happen. After the hearing in court where the Judge listens to the police officer, the District Attorney, and you attorney, the Judge will determine guilt. If found guilty, you will receive one of 5 levels of punishment. Level I is the most severe and Level 5 the least severe. NC DWI Levels I & II always result in active jail time, according to NC DWI laws. The jail time may range from 1 – 2 weeks all the way to 2 years for a level I NC DWI offense.

Factors That Determine Level of Punishment   Most of the factors which are considered by the Judge in determining the Level of Punishment are the Grossly Aggravating Factors, Aggravating Factors, and Mitigating Factors.
   • Grossly Aggravating Factors are the most serious conditions which occurred
     during the DWI arrest: A prior conviction for an offense involving impaired
     driving, driving while license was revoked, serious injury to another person 
     caused by impaired driving, driving while impaired with a child under the age 
     of 16 years 
   • Aggravating Factors increase the seriousness of the offense but are not 
     considered quite as serious as Grossly aggravating factors. Factors that 
     aggravate the seriousness of the DWI offense: BAC of .16, reckless driving, 
     accident, DWLR, 2 prior driving convictions (6 points), of a motor vehicle 
     offense, speeding while intoxicated, or passing a bus.

Important Information about
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

The things we eat and drink are passed directly into our bloodstream. When we drink an alcoholic beverage, molecules of alcohol pass through the stomach lining and mix in with our blood. This mixture of alcohol in the blood can be accurately measured.  BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content and this is a direct measurement of actual alcohol flowing with your blood through your body.

Around the world, BAC is recognized as the standard tool for setting a legal limit for intoxication while driving. A gallon of water and a gallon of blood weigh about the same.  If you have .05 grams of alcohol in 100mL of blood, it is the same as saying .05% of your blood is alcohol. 
 
Extensive scientific study has determined the typical effects of alcohol depending on varying BAC levels.  In other words, by obtaining your BAC, law enforcement can tell how drunk you are with fair accuracy. 

Average Effects of Blood Alcohol Content: Light to Moderate Drinkers

BAC  Effects

0.02    Reached after approximately one drink; feel warmth and relaxation.
0.04    Most people feel relaxed, talkative, and happy. Skin may flush. 
0.05    First sizable changes begin to occur. Lightheartedness, giddiness, lowered
           inhibitions, and less control of thoughts may be experienced. Impaired
           concentration. Both restraint and judgment are lowered. Coordination may be
           slightly altered.
0.06    Judgment somewhat impaired; normal ability to make a rational decision about 
           personal capabilities is effected, e.g., concerning driving ability. Impaired depth
           perception.
0.08    Definite impairment of muscle coordination and a slower reaction time; driving
           ability suspect. Legally impaired. Sensory feelings of numbness of cheeks and
           lips. Hands, arms, and legs may tingle and then feel numb. Reasoning impaired.
0.10    Clumsy; speech may become fuzzy. Clear deterioration of reaction time and 
           muscle control.
0.15    Definite impairment of balance and movement; staggering and slowed speech.  
           Mood swings. Decreased libido. The equivalent of a half-pint of whiskey is in the
           bloodstream.
0.20    Motor and emotional control centers measurably affected; slurred speech,
           staggering, loss of balance, and double vision can be present. Impaired ability to
           understand what is happening. Memory blackout.
0.30    Lack of understanding of what is seen or heard; individual is confused or 
           stuperous. Consciousness may be lost at this level, i.e., individual passes out.
           Bladder function impaired. Breathing and heart rate slowed down; death possible.
0.40 - 0.50    Usually unconscious; skin clammy. Heart rate lowered. Breathing slows and
           can stop altogether; death can result.
>.5      Death

The level of .08 is chosen because by the time you reach a .08 BAC, your coordination is notably affected as you can see above. But at a .05, sedation and slowed reaction time are key effects on your body. These alone are enough to impact your driving. It is important to know that the effects of any amount of drinking are dependent on more than just the alcohol itself. You need to reconsider driving ANY time you've been drinking. Medication, the amount of food in your stomach, and how tired you are, may affect your ability to drive safely.

So what are the factors that determine how much alcohol winds up in your blood? How do you get to a .08 and what happens to you along the way? How long does it take for your BAC to go back down? 
 
The Basics  
There are two BAC charts, one for men and one for women. This is because the amount of body fat one has for a given weight affects how much alcohol makes it to the bloodstream. Alcohol is not absorbed by fatty tissue. In "normal healthy" people, women have more body fat than men. The alcohol has less body to work on and is more concentrated. 


What's a Standard Drink? 
Most people do not realize how few drinks it takes to put them at risk of being arrested for drinking and driving. A standard drink in the United States is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). Many people don’t know what counts as a standard drink and so they don’t realize how many standard drinks are in the containers in which these drinks are often sold.

BAC charts are very general, but very good guides.  There are a number of other factors which will alter the rate at which alcohol enters your blood and the rate at which it dissipates.  In other words, you can slow down or speed up alcohol's effects, but you can't stop them.  To understand the impact of these variables requires an understanding of how you get drunk in the first place. 

The Factory   Three key organs, the stomach, intestines, and liver dictate how quickly your BAC rises and lowers once you begin drinking. 

1. The Stomach absorbs alcohol into the blood through diffusion.  But it does so
    more slowly than the intestines. The stomach has a valve at the end called the 
    pyloric valve.  When we eat food, this valve closes so the food can stay in the 
    stomach for digesting (& slows down alcohol diffusion).  So eating food can 
    slow down the rise of your BAC level.
2. The Intestines are far more efficient at diffusing alcohol into your blood than
    your stomach.  If you drink on an empty stomach, your pyloric valve is open 
    and more of the alcohol reaches the intestine quicker. The intestine can then 
    diffuse more of it into your bloodstream quicker, thus raising your BAC more 
    quickly.
3. The Liver eliminates the alcohol.  It does so by producing an enzyme called 
    alcohol dehydrogenase which metabolizes the alcohol (In chronic drinkers, the
    constant higher production of this enzyme tends to metabolize alcohol more 
    quickly, thus lowering their BAC more quickly.  However, the proliferation of 
    these same enzymes eventually begins to damage the liver).  95% of the
    alcohol you drink leaves your body this way.  The rest is released in sweat, 
    breath, saliva, urine, and even breast milk. For the average person, an average 
    drink will take about an hour to leave your body. In BAC numbers, this would 
    be lowering your BAC by .01 every 45 minutes or so.
 
Medications   Alcohol is a depressant. If you take any other depressant drugs, the effects of alcohol can be multiplied up to 10 times. Your BAC will be the same, but the EFFECTS will be far stronger.  It is very important to always follow instructions for all medications, not just prescribed medicine.  Even aspirin or Tylenol can be harmful when mixed with alcohol. 
 
Health   If you are tired, or fatigued, you will achieve a higher BAC than if you are well-rested. Your liver will work more slowly when you are tired, and process your alcohol more slowly.  Illness can lead to increased BAC levels because when we are sick, we are frequently dehydrated. With less water in our body, more of the alcohol can enter the blood quicker.
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