What alcohol-related laws are on the books in North Carolina?

Alcohol-related laws can vary greatly from state to state. It is a good idea for those living in North Carolina, or even visiting for a short time, to know what is and isn’t permitted in the state. Understanding these laws is especially relevant to those accused of an alcohol-related crime, and can be reviewed with a lawyer when determining a defense. Here are some of the main highlights of alcohol regulations in the state of North Carolina: 

  • Open containers are not permitted inside vehicles. This includes any can or bottle with a broken seal, even if no one has drank from it. Open containers are, however, permitted in the trunk of a car or in the very back seat of a larger vehicle, such as an SUV. 
  • Commercial vehicles may not have any alcoholic beverages, be they sealed or unsealed. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as those vehicles that are primarily used for habitation or vehicles transporting alcohol. 
  • Walking with an open container in public is not permitted in some cities, although it is not explicitly referred to in state legislation. 
  • Public intoxication is not a crime in North Carolina. Police may put an intoxicated person into protective custody, but they cannot formally arrest them. The exception to this is disruptive behavior, which can result in an arrest if an individual acts in particularly reckless ways while under the influence. 
  • The blood alcohol limit for driving is 0.08%. Those driving in commercial vehicles must maintain a blood alcohol level below 0.04%. Those under 21 may not have any alcohol in their system while driving. 

In addition to these highlights, there are laws relating to more specific issues, such as Breathalyzers. These laws are similar to those found in other states; however, there are slight variations on things such as immediate penalties and police limitations. For this reason, it is extremely helpful to work with the North Carolina defense attorney if ever accused of a DWI or other alcohol-related offenses in the state of North Carolina. 

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