North Carolina DWI Charges

DWI Charges in Charlotte – Here is What You Can Expect

In North Carolina, there are various laws with regard to driving while intoxicated (DWI) infractions.  First, with regard to driving privileges, if an offender registers a .08 or greater in a blood or breathalyzer test, or has refused to take such a test, their privilege to drive in the State of North Carolina will be revoked for at least 30 days.

In North Carolina there are different types of DWI’s that are felonies.  Felony Death By Motor Vehicle, which a person is charged with if someone dies in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver.  Felony death by motor vehicle can also be charged as second degree murder.  A related type of charge is Felony Serious Injury By Vehicle.  From the title, it is evident that a person must only be seriously injured, and not just killed for this charge to apply.

Another felony is Habitual DWI, which a person is charged with if it is their fourth DWI conviction within ten years.  So, a plea or verdict of guilty of Habitual DWI requires a judge to sentence you to no less than one year in the Department of Corrections.

The sentence cannot be suspended and is the absolute minimum sentence.  However, many judges have been known to give a longer sentence than the minimum for Habitual DWI.  Further, a conviction for Habitual DWI means your license can be permanently revoked.

Next, in North Carolina, after a conviction of misdemeanor DWI, the judge must hold a separate sentencing hearing and determine the appropriate level of punishment.  At this hearing, the judge determines if there are any grossly aggravating factors which include prior DWI convictions, driving while license revoked for DWI or alcohol related offenses, serious injury to another person, or driving with a child under the age of 16 years old in the car.

Three or more grossly Aggravating Factors lead to an Aggravated Level 1 sentencing level.  Two or more Grossly Aggravating Factors leads to a Level 1 conviction.  One Grossly Aggravating Factor leads to a Level 2 conviction.  If there are no Grossly Aggravating Factors, the judge will weigh Aggravating and Mitigating Factors to determine if you should be sentenced under Levels 3, 4, or 5.

So, if Aggravating Factors substantially outweigh the Mitigating Factors, Level 3 punishment is imposed.  If Aggravating and Mitigating Factors are equal, Level 4 punishment is imposed.  If the Mitigating Factors substantially outweigh the Aggravating Factors, Level 5 punishment will be initiated.  So, Level 1 is the highest level of punishment, and Level 5 is the lowest level of punishment.

The sentencing for the various levels is listed as follows:

  • Level 1 offenders get 30 days minimum and 2 years maximum, supervised probation and fines.  DMV will suspend a person’s license from 1 year to permanently.
  • Level 2 offenders get 7 days in jail minimum and one year maximum, and will typically get order supervised probation, and fines.  DMV will suspend the offender’s license from 1 year to permanently.
  • Level 3 offenders choose one of the two following options: (1) 72 hours of community service, or (2) 72 hours in jail ($15 per day fee). Also, if you are a Level 3 offender, the judge will likely order you to pay a fine between $350 – $1000 plus court costs.
  • Level 4 – the same conditions will apply as for Level 3, except you will choose between 48 hours of community service, and 48 hours of jail.  There is a fine plus court costs, the max jail term being 60 days.
  • Under Level 3, 4, or 5, the judge will likely impose a suspended sentence and place you on unsupervised probation; supervised is also an option.

It is easy to get confused. NC laws relating to DWI’s are complex. This is why it is critical to have an experienced Charlotte DWI attorney help you navigate through this system. For a consultation, call us at 704-579-4104.