If you have no prior convictions for drinking and driving, being found guilty of DWI is unlikely to result in serious jail time. Unless there were aggravating factors involved, the judge could impose only a short jail sentence if you are convicted or plead guilty. But usually, you are allowed to perform community service instead. The judge will probably also order you to pay a fine.
The most obvious way a first-time DWI is likely to disrupt your life has to do with your driving privileges. The law requires the judge to suspend your driver’s license for 12 months. However, for a first offense, you might qualify for limited driving privileges that let you drive to and from work, school, and/or religious services. Still, these restrictions would greatly limit your ability to drive legally. You might have to rely on rides from relatives and friends or rideshare apps to get around. And once your license is restored, you will need to pay to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and keep it there for a year.
Besides these restrictions and expenses, you will also need auto insurance. And for people with a DWI on their record, insurance is very expensive, especially in North Carolina. In this state, your insurance premiums can triple after a conviction. It will take several years before your premiums go down again.
These costs and restrictions could dramatically affect your budget and quality of life. You should keep these things in mind if you are thinking about pleading guilty to a DWI charge. If you have other options, they may be cheaper in the long run.