Not necessarily. To establish a prima facie case for Driving While Impaired in North Carolina, there are several elements that the State has to prove. Specifically, it must prove that you (1) drove (2) a vehicle (3) on a street, highway, or public vehicular area (4) while impaired. In North Carolina, blowing a 0.08 or higher creates a rebuttable presumption that you were impaired. However, it does not affect elements 1-3.
There are two ways the State can prove impairment: (1) “per se” impairment and (2) appreciable impairment. “Per se” impairment means your BAC was 0.08 g/210mL or higher. As stated previously, this creates a rebuttable presumption that you were impaired. Essentially, it shifts the burden of proof from the State to the defendant. The presumption that you were impaired can be rebutted by testimony from those who observed you on the night of the offense or by those who are familiar with your drinking habits, among other means. For example, if several of your college drinking buddies show up for your trial and testify that you hold your liquor like a champ, the judge or jury may be persuaded that you were not impaired even though you were over the legal limit.
If you blow under the legal limit, you can still be convicted of DWI in North Carolina. This is so because the State can proceed under an “appreciable impairment” theory of guilt. If the State proceeds under appreciable impairment, there is no presumption of impairment, and the State bears the burden of proving that element beyond a reasonable doubt. This makes sense if you think about it: if you blow 0.03 but you’re a lightweight, and you’re slurring your words and stumbling all over the place on the dash cam video, a judge might reasonably find beyond a reasonable doubt that you were impaired even though you blew less than 0.08.