DWI Substance Use Assessment in North Carolina

DWI Substance Use Assessment

We are proud to offer DWI assessments both online and in-person. 

What to Expect

A DWI Substance Use Assessment is required of everyone who is convicted of Driving While Impaired in the state of North Carolina. You can not receive a Limited Driving Privilege without a DWI Assessment. DWI and Substance Abuse assessments and groups can only be conducted by facilities licensed by the state of North Carolina to meet requirements to restore your driver’s license.

A DWI Substance Abuse Assessment is an alcohol abuse and drug abuse assessment consisting of an interview by a Licensed or Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and a structured assessment questionnaire to determine if a person has a problem with alcohol or drugs.

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.

Possible outcomes of the DWI assessment are no alcohol or drug use disorder or mild, moderate or severe, alcohol and/or drug use disorder. The DWI assessment and related paperwork take approximately one and a half hours.  If you have your DWI Assessment at First Step, we will bill your insurance for group counseling that may be required.

Allow at least 90 minutes for the DWI assessment. An NC DWI assessment requires your lifetime driving record and the printout of your breath/blood test. At First Step you can leave the assessment with all the paperwork you need for your attorney, court or the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.

The cost of NC DWI Assessments is $100. The $100 fee is established by the Legislature of the State of NC. No agency in the state of NC is allowed by law to charge more or less than the lawful $100 fee. The full fee is to be collected at the time of the assessment. You can choose any DWI assessment agency you want. NC laws and statutes give you the freedom to choose the agency you want. It is illegal to require clients to utilize any specific program by the court for DWI or under 21 driving after consuming charges. You can choose First Step no matter what misdemeanor charges you have.


Why Get Your DWI Assessment Done as Soon as Possible?

  • In NC, a  DWI assessment is usually required prior to receiving a Limited Driving Privilege; it is always required to receive the privilege 10 days into the 30 day civil revocation.
  • Shorten the period of time you can’t drive during your “Civil Revocation.”
  • Complete the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles DWI Assessment and Education, Counseling and or 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.

What We Need from You to Complete the DWI Assessment

A copy of your lifetime driving record from the DMV.  It must be signed or stamped by the NC  DMV. If your attorney has your lifetime driving record, he/she can fax that to us prior to the assessment.

Verification of your Breathalyzer or blood test reading. 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. First Step does not take checks for DWI or court required assessments. 

Come to the assessment of alcohol and drug-free.

  • Completing a DWI assessment prior to court is a mitigating factor at the trial and could lessen the level of punishment you receive.
  • Insurance may be used to assist with paying for DWI 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. This can be obtained in room 108 at the DMV located at 1100 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh. DWI Assessment “508s”  are completed online at First Step Services.
  • Clients who successfully complete a level of treatment, and are remaining abstinent, are welcome to continue attending aftercare for just $5 for as long as they would like to attend.
  • To schedule your appointment in Raleigh, call (919) 833-8899; Cary (919) 651-8349;  Garner (919) 329-9400.

You can attend any DWI approved agency of your choice. It is illegal for courts, judges or prosecutors to require you to attend a specific agency. If you are instructed to attend a specific DWI agency, please report this to NC DWI Services at (919) 733-0566. 

If you live in another state and received an NC DWI, First Step can help you with your assessment and classes or counseling without you having to return to North Carolina. With our help, you can meet all the requirements by receiving services in the area in which you live.

“I came to First Step because I was arrested for a 2nd DWI. At first, I believed the program to be another ‘jump through the hoops’ program that forced sobriety and life changes on the individual needing treatment. After a few sessions, I had completely changed my mind. I noticed how the services provided focused on empowerment and group discussion and NOT as I believed on the ‘carrot and stick’ treatment. This helped me to see what lay clearly before me, a route out of the ‘cycle of abuse’ that I had developed. Through guided sessions and open discussions, I learned many ways to avoid the pitfalls of relapse. I can truly say that this treatment has changed my outlook on life. For the better!” Anonymous group program participant


These placement requirements set by the NC DHHS DWI Services and must be followed by licensed DWI providers in the State of NC.

North Carolina law dictates that there are five placement levels for DWI substance abuse treatment and education. There are a minimum number of contact hours, time in group or class, and minimum lengths of time a person must be involved for DWI and <21 driving after consuming convictions.

State of NC rules require that a Substance Abuse assessment is valid for only 6 months. Counseling or ADETS must be started within 6 months from the date of the assessment or a new assessment is required by the State.

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 use disorder diagnosis as determined byASAM (American Society of Addictions Medicine) upon completion of comprehensive 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

  • Meets criteria for DSM-V Substance Use Moderate 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 Use Disorder, 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 Health Insurance, the State of NC, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and NC DWI Services, the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) requires groups to be scheduled at least 3 sessions, 3 hours each for a total of 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-V diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder, Severe:
  • Upon discharge from inpatient treatment, a person is required by the State of NC 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  there has been any substance use, the DWI client will likely have to begin a new treatment program.

Failure to follow the ASAM criteria can result in a facility’s losing its licenses and accreditation and jeopardizes payments by private insurers.

“This treatment was a required process by the state to return my license after DUI suspension. I enjoyed explaining my thoughts to everyone. It was nice to have a group of listeners to give feedback on my thoughts. Sometimes it can bring clarity to a situation just to express it out loud. I needed the introspection on my relationships, stress levels, goals, and weaknesses. I think if I keep these things in mind I will be a stronger person moving forward.” Anonymous DWI Program graduate


Paid your fees and can’t get your drivers license restored?

Completion paperwork and reports are not final until all fees are paid. Payment can be made by insurance, check, cash, credit/debit card or money order. The reason for delays in restoration of drivers licenses is the client did not inform the assessing agency of the conviction date. DWI assessment & counseling agencies have no means of knowing when a case is resolved in court, whether conviction or dismissal. Until we are notified that the case has been resolved and the outcome date, a “508” form cannot be completed. The “508” form is the document the State of NC requires to process the paperwork allowing for restoration of driving records. The correct conviction date is absolutely required for the State of NC to release a driver’s license for restoration. It is always up to the client to notify the DWI assessment agency of the conviction date or drivers licenses cannot be restored until that time.

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