You don't have to be drunk to get charged with DWI. Regardless of what you perceive as your alcohol tolerance level, you get booked on driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) when your blood alcohol falls below the threshold of 0.04% or 0.08%, depending on the vehicle type and state law. Besides testing for blood alcohol content (BAC) through a breathalyzer, a driver may also be tested for alcohol in his blood and urine. The cop that pulls you over may also administer a standard field sobriety test, such as standing on one leg for 30 seconds.
In North Carolina, failing the BAC limit of 0.08% will warrant a DWI charge. Accidents related to drunk driving have become alarming enough that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that states lower their BAC threshold to 0.05% from 0.08%. Yearly, 10,0000 people die in drunk driving accidents, and 146,000 are injured.
While public response to this recommendation are mixed, some authorities in the beverage association argue that taking the variables of weight, gender, and stomach contents, among others, 0.08% is the level that registers significant impairment among drivers on average. Lowering the BAC will only criminalize even responsible adults who drink moderately.
If you must drink, have a designated driver bring you home, so plan ahead before drinking. Contrary to popular belief, taking a shower, eating a big meal, or drinking hot coffee will not make you less drunk. Only time will sober you up.