In North Carolina, driving while impaired (DWI) is treated seriously and can result in significant penalties. Unlike some other states that penalize a person for drunk driving based on the number of prior offenses they have, North Carolina law has an elaborate system for determining what penalties a person convicted of DWI should face.
Five Levels of DWI Penalties
Determining what penalties you will face for your DWI conviction depends on your conviction’s level. The level your offense falls into relates to the presence of certain factors in your case, known as aggravating, grossly aggravating, and mitigating factors.
Aggravating and grossly aggravating factors include elements such as previous DWI convictions, the presence of a minor child in the car, and an elevated alcohol concentration.
Mitigating factors include things like the impairment being caused by a lawfully prescribed medication, a lack of serious violations on your driving record, and completing a substance abuse assessment.
There are five levels of DWI penalties, which are as follows:
The first level of DWI penalties is for drivers who commit DWI with more than one grossly aggravating factor present or who had a minor child in the vehicle at the time they drove while impaired.
Penalties could include up to 36 months in prison, a minimum jail sentence between 30 and 120 days, and a fine of up to $10,000.
A level two DUI occurs when there is one grossly aggravating factor present, but there was no minor child present in the car. This offense could result in a jail sentence between seven days and 12 months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
Punishment for a level three DWI is appropriate when there does not appear to be any grossly aggravating factors, but any mitigating factors do not outweigh the aggravating factors. You could face up to $1,000 in fines and a jail sentence of between 72 hours and six months.
Your DWI conviction will fall into the level four category if you do not have any aggravating or mitigating factors present in your case. Your DWI will also be punished as a level four if you have mitigating factors that counterbalance any aggravating factors present.
For this level of offense, you are facing up to $500 in fines and a jail sentence between a minimum of 48 hours of incarceration and up to a maximum of 120 days.
Your DWI conviction in North Carolina falls into level five if you have mitigating factors that significantly outweigh your aggravating factors. This is the least serious category of DWI under North Carolina law.
Penalties for this level of DWI can include up to a $200 fine and between 24 hours and 120 days in jail.
Other Consequences of a Conviction
Any conviction for any level of DWI can also result in other consequences, such as being placed on a period of probation supervision, having your license suspended or restricted, or having to complete substance abuse treatment.
What a North Carolina DWI Attorney Can Do
DWI penalties in North Carolina are complex, but a skilled lawyer can help you navigate this complicated legal landscape and protect your rights along the way. No matter what type of DWI charges you are facing, an experienced DWI defense attorney in North Carolina can make all the difference in securing the best outcome for you. The attorneys at Greenwood Law are skilled at identifying potential issues to challenge before a court. However, if no such issues exist, the attorneys at Greenwood Law are equally skilled in advising you on what to do to have the best possible outcome in your case.