Being convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina carries significant penalties for the accused. All convicted drunk drivers will face serious fines and a driving privilege suspension, and many will also be sentenced to some amount of jail time based on material case factors. Multiple offenders will face even more severe punishment, as all penalties are enhanced for those being convicted two or more times. North Carolina has also established impaired driving laws in a manner that gives the court system added authority to impose specific penalties in egregious drunk driving cases such as being involved in an accident while under the influence. This could mean having to deal with a DWI accident victim lawyer in a personal injury suit as well as complying with all sentencing imposed by the court.
DWI Charge Level
North Carolina takes a unique approach to adjudicating impaired driving. A first DWI with no extenuating circumstances and a low BAC may not be punished as severely as in aggravated cases. However, prosecutors in North Carolina have the latitude to file an aggravated charge level on any DWI citation based on extenuating case factors. High blood alcohol concentration levels can be an issue when charge level is assessed, and other issues such as having a child in the vehicle at the time of stop can also be a charge level factor. The state does not take a standardized approach because many cases are unique in some details.
Fines For Driving While Impaired In North Carolina
First offenders in a simple impaired driving case can expect a minimal fine, but those charged with a Level IV DWI can be fined up to $500 along with court costs and any associated fees. However, even a first DWI with a high blood alcohol reading or other aggravating factors can result in a higher charge level and fine amounts. Defendants with more than two convictions can be fined $1000 with third convictions carrying up to a $4000 fine.
All DWI convictions in North Carolina carry a jail sentence. Even a Level V, which is the lowest of all charges, requires a minimum of 24 hours detention, and the jail term can be up to 120 days depending on the circumstances. Level III offenders can receive up to six months with one year potential for a Level II or Level I charge conviction. All charge levels have minimal mandatory jail terms, but judges have significant latitude to assign jail time as they see fit in adjudicating a case, especially in aggravated charge cases.
Driver’s License Suspension For DWI
Another serious problem for those convicted of DWI in North Carolina is the suspension of driving privileges. Even a first-offense DWI can result in a one year suspension of driving privileges, and a second conviction can result in a four year suspension. Those convicted on a third offense can face possible lifetime suspension.
Potential Civil Legal Action
As if criminal issues are not problem enough for a DWI conviction, charges that stem from accidents can be even worse when an injured party retains a DWI accident victim attorney and files a lawsuit. Injury claims are standard and filed against insurance carriers, but drunk driving accidents can result in aggravated DWI charges which could be grounds for a punitive damage lawsuit. Any award can make a DWI conviction a serious watershed moment in the life of the drunk driver as well as the injured victim. And this especially applies in fatal accidents.
Anyone who has been injured in an auto accident with a drunk driver in North Carolina should call our office as soon as possible and let a DWI accident victim attorney from our firm investigate your case for a potential punitive damage lawsuit. You only have one opportunity for financial justice, and it is important to pursue whole damages as soon as possible following the incident.
Contact Kellum Law Firm today to schedule your no-cost case review. We’ll sit down with you and review the details of your case and present you with options. There’s no obligation to retain us following your initial case review. Call 1-800-ACCIDENT today.