North Carolina DWI Checkpoint FAQs (2024 Updated)

Doug Edwards

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) could result in staggering penalties such as jail time and large fines, all of which could be increased by aggravating factors, from driving without a license to having a minor in the vehicle. Throughout North Carolina, police officers can set up checkpoints where they’re allowed to stop your vehicle and determine if you are DWI. If you’ve been accused of DWI, you need a knowledgeable North Carolina DWI lawyer at your side.

Understanding DWI Checkpoints

Law enforcement has the right to set up a checkpoint without notice in an attempt to catch individuals who are DWI or driving under the influence (DUI). If an officer believes you are using illegal substances or alcohol while operating your motor vehicle, they can perform various tests to confirm their suspicions. In North Carolina, you cannot have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher.

The types of tests you could be asked to perform include:

  • Breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer is a handheld device that measures your BAC when you breathe through the device.
  • Field sobriety test. You may be asked to perform certain basic actions that test your coordination, balance, awareness, and more. These tests are meant to display your physical and mental abilities, and if you’re intoxicated, you may find them much more difficult.
  • Blood test. In certain cases, you could be given a blood test to determine your BAC level.
  • Urine test. This is rare in North Carolina due to privacy concerns, and DWI lawyers can more easily discredit this type of test in court.

Law enforcement administers these tests to ensure you aren’t posing a danger to yourself or others, although there may be cases when a test is administered improperly. In this instance, your lawyer may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

Are DWI Checkpoints Legal?

Law enforcement has the right to set up DWI checkpoints throughout North Carolina, so long as they abide by specific guidelines. In order for the checkpoint to be considered legal, they must:

  • Be completely random and cannot be used to target demographics, etc.
  • Have clearly stated the intention of the checkpoint.
  • Announce a predetermined location.

While the police can set up these checkpoints and perform various tests on drivers who may be DWI, you still have rights that they cannot violate. If police do something that violates your rights, such as searching your car without probable cause, you could use this to pursue legal action.

How a DWI Lawyer Can Help

A North Carolina DWI lawyer can help you make sense of the law while also helping you eliminate or reduce your penalties. Your lawyer intends to defend you in court, and it’s crucial you fully explain your situation so they can find vulnerabilities in the case. If they learn the police did something illegal while stopping you, they can use this information to build a case and hold them liable.

You may miss out on key details or strategies if you attempt to defend yourself, which is why hiring a lawyer can make a significant difference in how your case proceeds.


Q: Can You Refuse a DWI Checkpoint In NC?

A: Yes, you can technically refuse to go through a checkpoint. If you do not want to go through a DWI checkpoint, you are allowed to turn around and drive elsewhere so long as you don’t violate any traffic laws. If you are asked to perform a test, you can refuse it. While this may be considered an admission of guilt and lead to an arrest, your refusal cannot be used against you in court.

Q: Are Roadblocks Illegal in North Carolina?

A: According to North Carolina Statute Section 20-16.3A, law enforcement can legally set up checkpoints, also called roadblocks, as a way to catch drivers who are DWI. As of 2024, North Carolina is one of 39 states in the nation that legally allows checkpoints to be set up. However, these must be created according to certain guidelines, and failure to adhere to them could allow you to pursue legal action.

Q: What Does a North Carolina DWI Conviction Result In?

A: If you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, you could be penalized depending on the factors that are present in your case. A minor offense may only result in a fine of $500 and at least 48 hours in jail, but a more severe case that includes several aggravating factors could result in at least 120 days in jail along with up to $10,000 in fines.

Q: What Happens at a DWI Checkpoint?

A: At a DWI checkpoint, you may be asked a series of questions by law enforcement pertaining to using drugs or alcohol behind the wheel. If they believe you are DWI, you may be asked to perform one of four tests, with the field test being the most common. Police can then let you go if you pass their tests, or they may detain you if you are suspected of DWI.

Speak With an Experienced DWI Lawyer Today

Facing a DWI charge can be overwhelming, especially if aggravating factors could worsen your penalties. As with any legal issue across North Carolina, you likely lack the resources or ability to make a case for yourself and protect your rights. Fortunately, you can hire a North Carolina DWI lawyer to represent you. Law enforcement may have used illegal tactics while administering their tests at checkpoints, and a lawyer could potentially use this fact to have your charges dropped.

Our team at Edwards Law, PLLC, has represented various clients with DWI charges for more than a decade. We use our knowledge of North Carolina law to identify optimal ways to defend our clients and pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Navigating the legal system by yourself is risky, and you may not be able to reduce or eliminate your penalties effectively. If you believe your rights were violated at a DWI checkpoint, we want to hear from you.

To learn more about how we can help, contact our team today and request a consultation.