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North Carolina DWI Conviction: What Factors Can Impact My Sentence?

If you are convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, you will face several different penalties including a license suspension, increased insurance rates, ignition interlock, fines, court costs and potential jail time. There are a number of factors that can increase the severity of the penalty you will face as well as factors that can mitigate the severity of that penalty. There are three categories of factors: (1) Grossly Aggravating Factors, (2) Aggravating Factors and (3) Mitigating Factors.

 

Grossly Aggravating Factors

·      A DWI conviction that occurred after the date of the current offense, but before sentencing

·      A prior conviction of DWI within the past 7 years of the date of offense

·      Driving while your licenses is suspended for a prior DWI offense

·      A previous DWI that was appealed to Superior Court but was remanded back to District

 Court or withdrawn and there has not been a sentencing hearing

·      A car wreck that resulted in serious injury

·      Having a minor child under the age of 18 years old in the vehicle

 

Aggravating Factors

·      Prior DWI(s) more than 7 years before the current charge

·      Passing a stopped school bus

·      Extremely dangerous or reckless driving

·      Negligent driving which led to an accident

·      Driving with a revoked license (non-DWI related)

·      Driving at least 30 mph over the speed limit

·      Speeding to Elude Arrest or Attempting to Elude Arrest

·      2 or more prior convictions for a traffic violation which are 3 driver’s license points or more

·      Having a B.A.C of .15 or higher or gross impairment of the drivers faculties

 

Mitigating Factors

·      Completing a substance abuse assessment and complying with the recommended treatment

·      Voluntarily submitting into a mental health facility for assessment

·      Driving under the influence of a lawfully prescribed medication under the correct dosage

·      Having a Safe Driving Record (i.e. – no convictions for an offense worth at least four points in the last five years)

·      Slight impairment of a B.A.C of .09 or less

·      Slight impairment without a chemical analysis

·      Otherwise safe and lawful driving

The number of aggravating and mitigating factors in a DWI case can impact the sentencing level if you are convicted or found guilty. There are 6 different DWI sentencing levels: (1) Aggravated Level One, (2) Level One, (3) Level Two, (4) Level Three, (5) Level Four and (5) Level Five.

 

Aggravated Level One

·         If a person has three or more grossly aggravating factors, they will likely be sentenced as an Aggravated Level One DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 36 month jail sentence and the minimum punishment of 12 months.

 

Level One

·         If a person has a minor child in the vehicle or there are two grossly aggravating factors present, then that person will likely be sentenced as a Level One DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 24 month jail sentence with a minimum punishment of 30 days.

Level Two

·         If a person has committed one grossly aggravating factor, it is automatically a Level Two DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 24 month jail sentence with a minimum punishment of 7 days.

Level Three

·         If a person’s aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors, then that person will likely be sentenced as a Level Three DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 6 month jail sentence and the minimum punishment is 72 hours.

 

Level Four

·         When a person’s aggravating factors equal any mitigating factors or there are no aggravating or mitigating factors then that person will likely be sentenced at a Level Four DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 120 day jail sentence and the minimum punishment is 48 hours.

 

Level Five

·         When a person’s mitigating factors exceed any aggravating factors, then that person will likely be sentenced at a Level Five DWI.

·         The maximum punishment is a 120 day jail sentence and the minimum punishment is 24 hours.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC may be able to help prevent you from having an active jail sentence. You can call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel at 919-585-1486 for a free consultation. You may also email the attorney’s directly, by contacting Wiley Nickel at wiley@wileynickel.com, Kristi Haddock at kristi@wileynickel.com or Melissa Botiglione at melissa@wileynickel.com .

Wiley Nickel