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DWI penalties in North Carolina

If you face DWI charges in North Carolina, potential penalties if convicted likely rank fairly high among your pressing concerns.

While understanding the approximate ranges can give you a better estimation of what to expect, it is important to understand that every case is different and every judge may, within the framework of the law, adopt a different approach to evaluating these facts. The best way to reduce your potential risk is to work with a qualified attorney who can come up with the most appropriate strategy for your situation.

Range of penalties

The penalties for DWI offenses can vary greatly depending on the circumstances. Minimal, level five penalties generally include a fine of up to $200. You may also face imprisonment of up to 60 days. In many cases, judges may impose some combination of jail and community service; sometimes, they may suspend the sentence and impose at least 24 hours of community service.

On the other side of the spectrum, the most severe offense of aggravated level one DWI, which is a felony, can entail a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of between one and three years of imprisonment.

Additional consequences

Any type of DWI offense can also entail an administrative penalty of a one-year license suspension. You can also expect a substance abuse assessment, after which you may have to complete a treatment program and/or have an ignition interlock device put in your car.

Relevant factors

When determining the level of the offense, judges may consider mitigating or aggravating factors. Mitigating factors can reduce your sentence. Some examples include:

  • Voluntarily submitting to a substance abuse assessment and showing a willingness to complete treatment
  • A safe driving record over the past five years
  • The impairment in question being due to taking lawfully prescribed medication according to instructions
  • A BAC of 0.09 percent or less

Aggravating factors can increase your sentence. Common aggravating factors include previous driving offenses, convictions, previous DWI, causing an accident, and engaging in reckless or dangerous driving at the time of the DWI. Grossly aggravating factors are likely to lead to particularly harsh levels of sentencing and include causing serious injury, a prior conviction for driving with a revoked license if the reason for revocation was DWI, and having a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time of the DWI.

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