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Understanding different levels of DWI in North Carolina

Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a crime in North Carolina, with varying levels of severity. People who drive while impaired can face serious legal repercussions if arrested and convicted of the crime. The following details the different levels of DWI charges along with their respective penalties. 

Levels of DWI 

As a misdemeanor charge, DWI has five levels, with Level I being the most serious: 

  • Level V — Minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, up to 60 days, and a fine of up to $200. Judges may also impose community service upon completion of a 24-hour jail stay or prohibit one from operating a motor vehicle for 30 days. 
  • Level IV — Minimum 48 hours in jail, up to 120 days. Fines can be up to $500, and penalties include 48 hours of community service following 48 hours in jail or 60 days of not operating a motor vehicle. 
  • Level III — Carries a 72-hour minimum jail sentence, with a six-month maximum. Fines can be as high as $1,000. Judges again can suspend sentences in lieu of 72 hours of community service after serving 72 hours in jail and be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle for 90 days. 
  • Level II — Minimum jail sentence of seven days, with a one-year maximum. Fines can be up to $2,000, and a judge cannot suspend the minimum sentence. 
  • Level I — Minimum 30 days in jail with a maximum of two years and fines up to $4,000. Sentences cannot be suspended. 
  • Along with misdemeanor charges, drivers with at least three prior convictions for DWI can receive felony DWI charges. The minimum jail sentence is one year in prison and cannot be suspended. Those convicted must also complete substance abuse counseling. 

Seek defense counsel 

People convicted of DWI may also have their licenses suspended or revoked, and if they are caught driving on a revoked license, police can order the seizure of the suspect’s vehicle at the time of the arrest. North Carolina also has zero tolerance for CDI drivers and underage offenders. Considering the potential impacts on one’s future, anyone arrested for DWI in North Carolina will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the state. 

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