“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”
Do you know what I’m talking about? (For all the millennials out there who are too young to remember that jingle: those are the ingredients for a McDonald’s Big Mac).
Let me ask you this: if you have all of those ingredients, but you don’t have any special sauce…do you have a Big Mac? I would submit to you that the answer is NO. (Note: I’m not saying you don’t have something. Just that you don’t have a Big Mac.)
Well, the elements of a crime are like the elements of a Big Mac. The State has to prove each and every one of them beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, you are entitled to a not guilty verdict.
With that in mind, and without further ado, below are the elements of DWI in North Carolina. A person commits the offense of Driving While Impaired (formerly known as DUI, or “driving under the influence”) if (s)he:
- A Vehicle
- On a street, highway, or public vehicular area
- While Impaired, which means any of the following:
- while under the influence of an impairing substance,
- after consuming a sufficient quantity of alcohol that the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at any relevant time after driving, or
- with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolites in his or her blood or urine.
Remember: The State has the burden of proving each element listed above beyond a reasonable doubt! If the State proves you were impaired, for instance, but can’t prove that you were driving, you are entitled to a Not Guilty verdict.
DWI is a misdemeanor with its own sentencing scheme. The structured sentencing grids applicable to other criminal offenses do not apply to DWI cases.