Here is the first issue that comes up in every new DWI case – “how can I get my license back?” “I have to have my license to get to work.” We understand, and our firm will help you as part of our DWI representation. The article below provides an excellent overview of what is required and what to expect. The DWI trial attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, applaud First Step Services for its easy to read summary and efforts in helping those individuals charged with DWI in NC. Although based in the Raleigh area for now, we hope they will soon expand into our Charlotte market.

For more information about our firm and what we can do to help you, please call us at 704-499-9000 for a private consultation with one of our DWI attorneys. Or, visit our website at www.rjrlaw.com.

Here is the outstanding post:

A North Carolina DWI Assessment is required of everyone who is convicted of Driving While Impaired in the state of North Carolina. You cannot receive a Limited Driving Privilege without a DWI Assessment. DWI assessments and groups can only be conducted by facilities licensed by the state of North Carolina. Each of these licensed facilities must have a North Carolina DWI Provider Code. Getting an assessment and treatment by a substance abuse professional does not necessarily mean that professional has a North Carolina Provider DWI license.

First Step Services, LLC is fully licensed by NC DWI Services and will assist you with your assessment in a professional, confidential and timely manner.  First Step will often complete an assessment the day you call to request an appointment.

Why Get Your DWI Assessment Done as Soon as Possible?

In NC, a DWI Assessment is required prior to receiving a Limited Driving Privilege.

Shorten the period of time you can’t drive during your “Civil Revocation.”

Complete the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles DWI Assessment and Treatment requirements.

A DWI Assessment is a Mitigating Factor during your trial and can reduce the level of punishment, possibly helping avoid active jail time.

Know in advance where you stand with your DWI Substance Abuse requirements.

If you have your DWI Assessment at First Step, we will bill your insurance for any counseling that may be required, saving you money. First Step is one of the few companies that will bill your health insurance for DWI groups. Your cost at First Step will be much lower than at agencies that don’t accept insurance. Choose First Step Services and save.

Don’t be misled by mailed or other notices that say you must go to any particular agency for a DWI assessment.  You can choose ANY licensed NC DWI agency you like.

A DWI Assessment is an alcohol abuse and drug abuse assessment consisting of a clinical interview and a structured DWI assessment questionnaire to determine if a person has a problem with alcohol or drugs. There are a few different assessment types that are used by different NC DWI programs.

Possible outcomes of the DWI assessment are alcohol or drug dependence, alcohol or drug abuse, or no alcohol or drug “handicap.” The DWI assessment and related paperwork take approximately one hour and a half.

Allow at least 1 1/2 hours for the DWI assessment when you schedule your appointment with First Step. You can leave with all the paperwork you need for your attorney, court or the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.


(From the NC DHHS DWI Services and Wake County Court Services Homepages)

The DWI Assessment results will assign you to one of the following levels of group or class.

There are five placement levels for DWI substance abuse treatment in North Carolina. There are a minimum number of contact hours and minimum lengths of time a person must be involved. These are now codified into a new section 122C-142.1 of the General Statutes: “Substance abuse services for those convicted of driving while impaired, or driving after drinking by person under 21.”

State Rules require that a Substance Abuse assessment is valid for only 6 months. Treatment or ADETS must be started prior to 6 months from the date of the assessment or a whole new assessment will be required at a full cost of $100.

Level I- DWI Education (Alcohol & Drug Education Traffic School):

First DUI/DWI conviction (Total lifetime)

Arrest BAC of .14 or less

Did not refuse breath test

Has no substance abuse diagnosis as determined by a thorough alcohol and drug use evaluation

Must be a minimum of sixteen contact hours completed in no less than 5 sessions.

Level II-DWI Short-term Treatment:

More than 1 DUI/DWI lifetime

Refused breath test

BAC of .15 or greater

DSM-IV diagnosis of Substance Abuse

Meets Level I ASAM (American Society of Addictions Medicine) program placement criteria.

A minimum of 20 but less than 40 contact hours lasting a minimum of 30 days

Level III-DWI Intermediate Level Treatment:

Meets criteria for DSM-IV Substance Dependence Diagnosis

Meets Level I ASAM program placement criteria

Minimum of 40 but less than 90 contact hours, minimum of 60 days duration

Level IV-Intensive Outpatient Treatment:

DSM-IV diagnosis of Substance Dependence, moderate to severe

Meets Level II ASAM program placement criteria

A minimum of 90 contact hours with a minimum duration of 90 days

According to ASAM, to be considered intensive outpatient, this requires at least 3 sessions and 9 hours per week in treatment. This program may be preceded by a brief inpatient stay for detoxification or stabilization of a medical or psychiatric condition.

Level V-Inpatient/Residential Treatment:

DSM-IV diagnosis of Substance Dependence, severe

Meets Level III or IV program placement criteria

Upon discharge from inpatient treatment, a person has to enroll in an approved continuing care or outpatient program to meet the 90-day time frame. There should not be any significant period of time between inpatient or residential treatment and beginning the 90 days follow up. There should also be no resumption of alcohol or drug use, even in small amounts prior to the 90 day follow up. If there is more than a couple of weeks between residential treatment and beginning the follow up or if there has been any substance use, the DWI client will likely have to begin a new treatment program.

NC law allows up to 15 days credit for inpatient treatment in place of mandatory active sentence. However, an inpatient treatment facility can admit a person to inpatient treatment, ONLY, if that person meets the ASAM criteria for this level of treatment. This is true, even if the person wants to pay for this in full out of his own pocket.

Failure to follow the ASAM criteria can result in a facility’s losing its Medicare or Medicaid accreditation and puts in jeopardy payments by private insurers. Admission to inpatient treatment is based solely on medical or psychiatric necessity, not on a legal requirement or personal preference! (From the DHHS DWI Services)

(ASAM refers to the criteria established by the American Society of Addictive Medicine.)

We must consider the following during the assessment:

•  A copy of your driving record from the DMV. The North Carolina Certified Driving Record costs $11.00. It must be signed or stamped by the NC DMV. If you can’t get one, First Step will order one online for you. If we can’t get it that way, we will go to the DMV for you.

•  Verification of your Breathalyzer reading. You will probably have this with your ticket. This can also be obtained from your attorney, the Clerk of Court or possibly from the North Carolina DMV.

•  Fee payment of $100 for the assessment in cash or money order. If writing a check, you will have to wait 14 days for the check to clear to receive results.

•  Come to the assessment alcohol and drug free. If you are “high” or have alcohol on your breath, you will be turned away and will be charged for the time the counselor reserved for your assessment.

A NC DWI Substance Abuse Assessment is required by law for all those convicted of DWI in North Carolina. Getting a DWI assessment prior to court is a mitigating factor at the trial and could lessen the level of punishment you receive.

Education or substance abuse treatment is required of everyone convicted of Driving Wile Impaired. Depending on the level recommended by the assessment, classes or treatment may last from 1 week to 90 days or more.

If you have your DWI Assessment at First Step, we will bill your insurance for any counseling that may be required, saving you money. First Step is one of the few companies that will bill your health insurance for DWI groups.   Your cost at First Step will be much lower than at agencies that don’t accept insurance.

Enrolling in the recommended treatment before court is an advantage at the trial.

Many attorneys are now recommending that you enroll at the time of your assessment.

First Step provides DWI and substance abuse assessments in the evening and on Saturday. The state of NC requires that a DWI provider charge $100 for the DWI assessment. First Step charges no administrative fees or other charges of any type except for out of state transfers.

To schedule your appointment in Raleigh, call (919) 833-8899.  You can pay by either money order, credit card or cash; Garner (919 329-9400; Durham (919) 419-0229. Insurance may be used to assist with paying for DWI counseling, treatment, or groups.

Before the results of your assessment can be finalized, you will need to bring in written proof of your Breathalyzer reading (BAC) if you were arrested for DWI. You can also obtain a copy from the clerk’s office or have your attorney fax verification to us.

NC DWI law requires a certified copy of your driving record be reviewed at the DWI assessment. If you have a North Carolina driver’s license this can be obtained in room 108 at the DMV located at 1100 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh. First Step staff will pick up your NC driving record and court records if you need that service.

DWI Assessments “508s” are completed online at First Step Services, speeding up the turn around time.

First Step Services Durham

3329 Chapel Hill Blvd, Suite 201

Durham, NC 27707

(919) 419-0229 Fax: (919) 490-3708