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DWI Sentencing in North Carolina

DWI Punishments If someone pleads guilty or is found guilty DWI in NC the Judge is required to conduct a formal Sentencing Hearing and determine the proper Level of offense.

In NC, there are 6 levels of punishment for Misdemeanor DWI charges: Level A1, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. An A1 “aggravated DWI” is the most serious level, allowing a maximum period of incarceration of 3 years and a fine up to $10,000.

Even with the lowest level of punishment, there can be long-term consequences to a DWI conviction including loss or suspension of your license, increased insurance premiums, and possible limitations on types of employment or the right to obtain a handgun permit.

Experienced legal advice is helpful, as NCGS 20-179 can be complicated, if not confusing.

Your case, while it may share certain factors common to many impaired driving offenses, is unique to you. What’s important to you may be completely different from even the person sitting next to you in court.

What is “Driving While Impaired?”

As part of imposing a sentence for “drunk driving,” the District or Superior Court Judge (depending on where the case is heard) is given a tremendous amount of discretion.

Possible Conditions of Judgment

Active Jail Term: Whether to require jail time or an “active term” is in the discretion of the sentencing judge. As such, you may be Ordered to complete active jail time in jail as part of a conviction for DWI. It is more commonly associated with the highest levels of punishment, those being a Level 1, Level 2, and a Level A1.

Probation: The Judge who enters judgment may also “suspended” any active term in prison or jail and instead require a probationary judgment. Probation associated with a conviction may be imposed for a substantial period of time. If it’s “supervised probation,” that requires reporting to a Probation Officer.

Conditions of Probation:

Terms and conditions of probation may require completion of several different terms, which may include:

  • Alcohol Assessment and Recommended Treatment: Proof of completion of an Alcohol Assessment at a NC approved assessment center is a common term of probation. It doesn’t matter if it’s Supervised or Unsupervised Probation.

    Once assessed, there may be recommendations for treatment. That may include completion of an alcohol awareness program all the way to inpatient treatment.

    Proof of an assessment and completion of any recommended treatment is also a condition imposed by NCDMV for restoration of a driver license pursuant to N.C.G.S. 20-17.6.

Approved Assessment Agencies

  • Community Service: In the event a jail term isn’t required, completion of Community Service is commonly a condition of the suspended term. The standard hours of CS are 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours.

    There is also a fee for Community Service that may be imposed. The Community Service Fee may be waived by the Court, in her or his discretion, in the event it is completed at a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.

  • Secured Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM): The sentencing Court may also Order you abstain from the consumption of alcohol and/or taking controlled substances not lawfully prescribed. Alcohol monitoring, in certain limited circumstances, may be an alternative to an active jail term.

    The specifics of DWI sentencing under NCGS 20-179 are case specific. If you have questions about your impaired driving charges, call now for a FREE CONSULTATION: 252-299-5300

  • Violations of Probation: A willful failure to comply with any and all conditions of the suspended term can result in a Probation Violation and activation of the suspended sentence. That can result in jail time.

  • Fines and Court Costs: The total amount of fines and costs of course can vary and depend on the Level of DWI. Costs of Court are paid to the Clerk of Court. Some judges require immediate payment, in full, of all fees, fines, and court costs.

DWI Sentencing Penalties Imposed by NCDMV: The NC Division of Motor Vehicles is required to suspend a operator’s license if convicted of DWI charges. The minimum period of revocation or suspension is 12 months and depends on the circumstances of each criminal matter.

DWI charges in NC are normally a misdemeanor. There are instances when impaired driving may be considered a “predicate offense” for certain felony charges. There is also something called Habitual DWI in North Carolina, which is also a serious felony charge.

Level A1, Level 1, and Level 2 offenses preclude obtaining a driver license, including a Limited Driving Privilege.

The Department of Transportation/Division of Motor Vehicles may also require, prior to restoration, other conditions such as:

  • Completion of the full period of revocation or suspension
  • Payment of all court costs, fees, and fines
  • Completion of any jail or prison term
  • Completion of Community Service hours
  • Completion of a Substance Abuse Assessment
  • Completion of recommended Treatment
  • Payment of an $130 for NCDL Reinstatement
  • Payment of $65 Restoration Fee
  • Payment of $50 Service Fee

NCDMV License Restoration Requirements

OBX Lawyers – Outer Banks Criminal Defense Attorney Danny Glover

If you have questions about DWI sentencing in North Carolina, you may reach Danny Glover directly at:

DWI charges are serious.

Judges, prosecutors, and criminal lawyers all understand the potential long-term consequences. You should take your charges seriously. Call now for a free, confidential consultation.

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