December 9, 2022

What To Expect From a DWI Conviction in North Carolina

Raleigh criminal lawyer

Typical DWI conviction penalties in any state usually include fines and court fees, temporary driver’s license suspension or permanent revocation, community service hours, mandatory drug and alcohol abuse programs, and possible jail time.

In North Carolina, a DWI arrest results in an immediate suspension of driving privileges for 30 days, with the possibility of additional limited driving time after the trial — no matter how serious or minor the DWI charge ends up being. Additionally, a mandatory fine is required with every DWI conviction, and jail time or community service hours are possible as well.

To understand the state sentencing guidelines for DWI convictions in North Carolina, here’s a brief outline of the different levels and common penalties (ascending in severity from least to most):

  • Level Five: In addition to license suspension, this conviction can have a fine of up to $200, between 24 hours and 60 days in jail, and possible substance abuse assessments.

  • Level Four: The penalties for a level four conviction are slightly more serious — the fine can be up to $500, and jail time can last from 48 hours to 120 days.

  • Level Three: Fines for level three DWI convictions can be as high as $1,000, and jail time can last anywhere between 72 hours and six months.

  • Level Two: Along with a possible $2,000 fine, this DWI offense is usually accompanied by jail time lasting from seven days to 12 months, although the judge could opt to suspend the sentence and instead require 90 days of alcohol abstinence.

  • Level One: The penalties for this charge can be a maximum $4,000 fine and jail time lasting 30 days to 24 months; with mitigating factors, a judge could decide to drop the jail time down to 10 days and require alcohol monitoring for 120 days after.

  • Aggravated Level One: This is the most serious level for DWI convictions in North Carolina — fines can reach as high as $10,000, and the minimum jail time is 12 months (maximum imprisonment of three years). Substance abuse assessments are mandatory, and alcohol abstinence is usually required for about four months after being released from jail.

It’s important to remember that the exact penalties for a drunk driving conviction depend on a variety of factors, including things like past traffic violations and substance abuse problems, so these punishments may be amended by a judge in certain situations. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: for drivers in North Carolina, getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks can result in some pretty serious consequences.

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