Serving New Hanover & Pender Counties

(910) 444-1992

DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED “DWI”

Whether you are facing a simple speeding ticket or if you have been stopped for Driving While Impaired (DWI/DUI), the matter is often more complex than you expect and can impact both your life and your insurance rates more than you think. Depending on the various factors of the charge, a traffic citation or speeding ticket can result in having points applied to your license or lead to a revocation. A single conviction for Driving While Impaired (DWI/DUI) can cause your insurance rates to increase by as much as 400%.

If you are convicted of a First Offense DWI in North Carolina, you may be eligible for a Limited Pre-Trial Driving Privilege. Although you may have your license revoked for 30 days in accordance with North Carolina law, you may be granted a Limited Pretrial Driving Privilege after 10 days provided you have no other pending or unresolved charges involving impaired driving for which your license has been revoked, at the time of your arrest you held a valid driver’s license (or license that had been expired for less than one year), and you complete a substance abuse assessment by a court-approved and registered facility.

If you have been charged with a DWI in New Hanover or Pender Counties and would like to apply for a Limited Pretrial Driving Privilege, contact Miriam Thompson and we can help you navigate the requirements of the judicial system to have your driving privileges restored.

Pursuant to North Carolina Motor Vehicle Law, there are six different levels of Driving While Impaired for which you may be charged:
Aggravated Level 1 DWI: If convicted as an Aggravated Level 1 Driving While Impaired offense in North Carolina, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 36 months and a minimum sentence of 12 months. Should the judge decide to suspend the sentence, you will still be subject to 120 days of active jail time, as well as a fine of $10,000. This is the most severe Driving While Impaired offense in North Carolina, as adopted in NC G.S. 20-179, and applies to any offenses committed 12/1/2011 or later.

Level 1 DWI: If convicted as a Level One Driving While Impaired offense in North Carolina, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 24 months and a minimum sentence of 30 days, as well as a fine of up to $4,000. Even if the sentence is suspended, you will still be subject to 30 days of active jail time.

Level 2 DWI: If convicted as a Level Two Driving While Impaired offense, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 12 months and a minimum sentence of seven days. Even if the judge chooses to suspend the sentence, you will still be subject to seven days of active jail time. You will likely face a fine of $2,000.

Level 3 DWI: If you are convicted of a Level Three Driving While Impaired offense, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of six months and a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours. If the judge chooses to suspend the sentence, the resulting alternative requirement will be 72 hours of community service. You will likely face a fine of $1,000.

Level 4 DWI: If convicted as a Level Four Driving While Impaired offense in North Carolina, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 120 days and a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours, although the judge may choose to suspend the sentence. If you are given a suspended sentence you will be required to complete 48 hours of community service. You will likely be subject to a fine of $500.

Level 5 DWI: If convicted as a Level Five Driving While Impaired offense, you will be subject to a maximum jail sentence of 60 days and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours. The judge may decide to suspend the sentence, which would result in the alternative requirement of 24 hours of community service. You will likely be subject to a fine of $200.
North Carolina General Statute 20-179, which governs sentencing for convictions for Driving While Impaired in North Carolina, was amended by the 2011 NC General Assembly and changed the requirements for imposing a Level One Impaired Driving sentence. Under these amended requirements, an individual charged with Driving While Impaired with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle must be sentenced for a Level 1 DWI.
The Level of a Driving While Impaired offense is determined by the aggravating and mitigating factors of the offense as determined by the District Attorney and the arresting officer. A DWI may be elevated to different levels based on one or more of the following factors:

• Gross Impairment – A BAC Level of .15 or more within a reasonable time of driving.
• Especially reckless or dangerous driving
• Negligent driving or a reportable accident
• Driving while license revoked
• Prior driving convictions resulting in 3 or more driver’s license points or prior DWI conviction greater than 7 years ago
• Fleeing to elude arrest
• Driving 30+ mph over the posted speed limit
• Passing a stopped school bus
• Or any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense
 
In addition to the aggravating factors listed above, a DWI conviction will be elevated to a higher level based upon any Grossly Aggravating Factors. If one grossly aggravating factor applies to the offense, GS 20-179 requires that the defendant must be sentenced as a Level 2 DWI. In the event of two grossly aggravating factors applying to the offense, the defendant must be sentenced as a Level 1 DWI. Should more than two grossly aggravating factors apply, the defendant must be sentenced as an Aggravated Level 1 DWI charge in North Carolina.

Grossly Aggravating Factors for a DWI in North Carolina:
Any prior conviction of an impaired driving offense within seven years
Driving while license revoked for DWI at the time of the new impaired driving charge
Serious injury caused to another person resulting from impaired driving
Or driving impaired with a person under the age of 18, with the mental development under the age of 18, or a person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit, in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Additionally, amendments to GS 20-179 require that a person must be charged as a Level 1 DWI if Grossly Aggravating Factor 4 (child, developmentally disabled or physically handicapped person in vehicle) applies, regardless of any other aggravating, mitigating, or grossly aggravating factors apply.

CALL FOR A FREE CONSULTATION 910-342-0760