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What can I expect if I get a DWI in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Being pulled over for DWI is a nerve-wracking experience. Now that you’ve been arrested, it’s natural to wonder what will happen to you.

What you can expect depends in large part on these factors:

  • Whether you refused the Intoxilyzer test
  • Your blood-alcohol concentration at the time of your arrest
  • Whether you’ve been convicted of DWI before in the past seven years and, if so, how many times
  • Any other prior convictions for DWI that you have received outside of the past seven years
  • Whether you were driving on a revoked license due to a prior DWI conviction
  • Whether you are a commercial driver
  • Whether you were under 21 at the time of the alleged offense
  • Whether you had a minor child in the car at the time of the alleged offense
  • Whether you caused a crash with serious injuries

There are six levels of misdemeanor DWI charges in North Carolina. In North Carolina, DWIs are sentenced based on the presence of aggravating and mitigating factors to the case. The more aggravating factors that are present in your case, the more likely you are to be convicted of a more serious level DWI offense or even felony DWI.

Let’s assume that no aggravating factors apply to your case. If this is the first time you’ve been arrested for DWI, you might be looking at a conviction for a Level 5 DWI, the lowest level.

If you are convicted of Level 5 DWI, you’ll spend at least 24 hours and up to 60 days in jail. Additionally, you’ll be fined up to $200. A judge could suspend your jail sentence in exchange for performing 24 hours of community service.

Beyond the potential criminal consequences, you’ll have to deal with a driver’s license revocation if you’re convicted. Even a first DWI conviction means revocation of your license for a year, although a limited license may be available. In order to get your license back, you will need to undergo a substance abuse assessment and follow its recommendations, plus pay a license reinstatement fee.

The penalties for DWI go up quickly the higher their level. For example, the penalties for Level 4, which is the second-least serious, are more than double those for Level 5. Level 3 charges carry three times the penalty of Level 5.

Repeat offender driving on a revoked license? North Carolina law allows the police to seize your vehicle. If you’re convicted of DWI while driving on a revoked license from a prior DWI, the state can keep your car.

Don’t plead guilty without a lawyer

If you have been arrested for DWI, don’t assume there is nothing you can do. There could be issues with your case that a defense lawyer could spot. You might be over-charged, or there might be reasons to reduce or even dismiss the charges against you.

Be sure to work with a compassionate defense attorney who will go the extra mile for you.


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