DWI Sentencing2019-09-19T10:51:22-04:00

NC DWI Sentencing 
What are the penalties for a DWI conviction?

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What happens after you get charged with DUI or DWI?

After getting arrested for a DWI, you’ll get a citation or summons that gives you your court date. This is the day you will appear in court to face your DWI charge. At this time you’ll likely have a million questions running through your head. Will I lose my license? If so, for how long? How much am I going to get fined? Will I go to jail?

Before going to court, you should know what DWI sentencing factors work for and against your case. Then, you need to understand the penalties that come with a DWI if you are convicted, and what your options are for minimizing them. Know your options, so you can be better prepared. Request your free DWI consultation with one of our DWI lawyers today. They’ll gladly walk you through each and every one of your options.

NC DWI Sentencing Factors

DWI Sentencing in North Carolina depends on a variety of sentencing factors in a DWI case. These sentencing factors will determine the sentencing level a judge can impose. North Carolina’s laws for sentencing DWI offenders are in General Statute §20-179. This statute establishes six tiers, or levels, of sentences. The judge determines your sentence level by considering three things. These are grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors. Aggravating and grossly aggravating factors will cause the court to go harder on you. Mitigating factors helps the court to be more lenient. A DWI attorney can help you identify which DWI sentencing factors apply to your individual case.

NC DWI Sentencing Levels

NC DWI Sentencing Levels

All DWI convictions, except the felony of Habitual DWI, are sentenced at one of six levels in North Carolina.
 
Level A1, Level 1, or Level 2 can apply if you have a prior DWI conviction within seven years or if you have any grossly aggravating factors.
 
Levels 3, 4, and 5 apply for first offenses. They are imposed if the offense occurs more than seven years after any previous offense, and there are no grossly aggravating factors. If this is your first DWI, the level you get will depend on the weight of the aggravating and mitigating factors in your case. There are some occasions when you could have a grossly aggravating factor on your first offense.

Level 5 Penalties:

  • Up to $200 fine
  • 24 hours to 60 days in jail 

The judge may suspend the jail term if:

  • You are imprisoned for at least 24 hours as a condition of special probation.
  • Or, you perform at least 24 hours of community service.

The judge can impose any combination of these conditions.

Level 4 Penalties:

  • Up to $500 fine
  • 48 hours to 120 days in jail

The judge may suspend the jail term if:

  • You are imprisoned for at least 48 hours as a condition of special probation.
  • Or, you perform at least 48 hours of community service.

The judge can impose any combination of these conditions.

Level 3 Penalties:

  • Up to $1000 fine
  • 72 hours to six months in prison.

The judge may suspend the jail term if:

  • You are imprisoned for at least 72 hours as a condition of special probation.
  • Or, you perform at least 72 hours of community service.

The judge can impose any combination of these conditions.

A Level Two sentence is a serious sentence. The judge must impose level two punishment if at least one grossly aggravating factor is present.

Level Two Penalties:

  • Up to $2,000 fine
  • Seven days to one year in prison.

As an alternative, the judge may allow you to complete 90 days of alcohol abstinence to avoid jail time. In order to prove your abstinence, you must wear a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet (CAM) for the entire period of time. But, be aware, if the judge allows CAM in place of your mandatory minimum jail time, you may be required to complete 240 hours of community service.

Level One provisions for losing your license apply to Level Two as well. The judge will make completing an alcohol treatment program a condition to having your driving privileges restored after the period of suspension. But until your license is restored you cannot get limited driving privileges.

Under Level one sentencing, the court imposes the second most severe punishment. A judge must hand you a level one sentence if two aggravating factors are present. Level One sentencing also applies if there was a passenger in the car who was less than 18 years of age.

Level 1 Penalties:

  • Up to $4,000 fine
  • 30 days to 2 years in prison

To reduce the 30-day jail sentence to a 10-day sentence, the judge may allow you to complete 120 days of alcohol abstinence. You’d wear a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet (CAM) to prove your abstinence.

The judge will order that you not drive until the DMV gives you back your driver’s license. That period of time depends on how close together your DWI convictions are. The judge will also make you complete an alcohol treatment program as a condition to having your driving privileges restored, but again, you get no limited driving privileges during your period of suspension.

Under Level A1 sentencing, or aggravated level one, the court imposes the most severe punishment. A judge must hand you a Level A1 sentence if three grossly aggravating factors are present.

Level A1 Penalties:

  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • 1 year to 3 years in prison

To reduce the minimum 1 year in prison to a lesser 120 days in jail, the judge may allow you to complete 120 days of alcohol abstinence. You’d wear a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet (CAM) to prove your abstinence.

The judge will order that you not drive until the DMV gives back your driver’s license. That period of time depends on how close together your DWI convictions are. The judge will also require you to complete an alcohol treatment program to have your driving privileges restored. But, you do not get limited driving privileges during your period of suspension.

How Does a DWI Affect Your Driver’s License?

You will lose your license if you’re convicted of a DWI. However, keep in mind that a charge is not a conviction. We recommend that you speak with one of our DWI attorneys as soon as possible. They can help you identify ways to potentially avoid a DWI conviction given your specific circumstances.

As mentioned before, how long you lose your license will depend on what level you’re sentenced. It could be for as little as one year if your sentence is a level five, four or three. But, a level one or level two conviction could result in the loss of your license for four years. And, you could lose your license permanently if you’re convicted of Habitual DWI or have three or more DWI convictions within the last 10 years.

Limited Driving Privileges in NC

But, there is still hope even if you are found guilty of DWI. If you are eligible, you may petition the court and ask for limited driving privileges in North Carolina.

Should limited driving privileges be granted, you will receive a form that allows you to drive to:

  • Work
  • School
  • Medical care
  • Any community service or alcohol counseling you may have to participate in

With some, but not all limited driving privileges, driving may be legally allowed to accomplish basic household maintenance. For example, you may be able to go out and buy gas or groceries or to pick up your dry cleaning. Obtaining limited driving privileges after a DWI conviction is a very specific process and it comes with specific ground rules that have to be followed. Luckily, we’ve created a great resource page where you can learn more about petitioning for limited driving privileges.

Contact a DWI Lawyer Today

Again, we strongly suggest that you consult with a DWI attorney about your case as soon as possible. Our law firm has offices in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point for your convenience. We are prepared to offer you the tailored DWI defense that you need. So, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

I cannot say enough good things about my attorney. His knowledge of DWI case law is vast and his professionalism in court was unmatched. He was able to get my entire case dismissed before trial by showing that the officer who charged me did not follow proper arrest procedure. The judge called his motion to dismiss “brilliant”. I highly recommend him for any DWI-related matter.

DWI Client

Mike represented me on two DWI charges both were dismissed. DWI charges are hard to overcome if convicted you will lose your license, pay high fees, do community service, and your insurance will really be high. If you want to have a fighting chance call Mike he is very knowledgeable and helpful.

DWI Client

Mr. Dummit was a great help to me in an interlock case. He was very honest about the process and what to expect in different cases. He was very re-assuring when all the facts about my case were gathered and consulted with me numerous times before the actual case. He was always very prepared, was available at times that many attorneys would not be, and treated me with the utmost respect in all situations. His staff was very friendly and professional in all their dealings with me and I would recommend his law firm overwhelmingly to anyone that is in need. I can not express my appreciation enough to Mr. Dummit, Mr. Fradin and their whole firm.

Client
Average Rating: 5 stars (based on 42 ratings)

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Your needs are our top priority. No matter what the case entails, we look forward to meeting and working with you to get through this matter as efficiently and effectively as possible. Stop by one of our locations today in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, or High Point, NC. We currently service the following counties: Forsyth County, Guilford County, Surry County, Stokes County, Yadkin County, Davie County, Davidson County, Rockingham County, Randolph County, and Alamance County.

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