DUI in North Carolina: Penalties for Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is also referred to as “driving while impaired” or DWI in North Carolina. The consequences of being charged with a DUI in North Carolina (specifically Hendersonville) can affect your personal and professional lives. This is because there are severe consequences for driving while impaired.

This article discusses the penalties for DUI in North Carolina. Contact a Hendersonville DUI defense lawyer when charged with drunk driving.

Penalties for DUI in Hendersonville, North Carolina

The North Carolina sentencing structure is complicated. The DUI penalties are based on the sentencing level you receive. For example, Level 5 is the least severe penalty, and level 1 (aggravated) is the most severe.

Generally, DUI penalties may include a jail term, a fine, or other conditions like a compulsory one-year suspension of your driver’s license.

Factors that Determine a Jail Term for a DUI in North Carolina

When you face a DUI, several factors could contribute to your punishment.

  • Mitigating Factors: The motorist might show that they had a low blood alcohol concentration (0.09% or less), that the impairing drug was prescribed, they have a clean driving record during the last five years, or that they were driving safely. For the court to allow the plea of mitigating factors, the defendant must consent to a mental health screening, 60 days of sobriety monitoring, or therapy.
  • Aggravating Factors: Having a high BAC of at least 0.15%, reckless driving, causing a collision, speeding while trying to dodge police, speeding over 30 miles per hour when charged with DUI, and passing a stopped school bus are all examples of “aggravating” situations.
  • Grossly Aggravating Factors: Causing significant injury, driving while revoked for DWI, and driving with a minor passenger while committing a DWI are “grossly aggravating” conditions. In addition, a previous DWI within the last seven years is also a significant aggravating factor.

A Hendersonville DUI Defense Lawyer Discusses Jail Term for a DUI in North Carolina

Except for the felony of Habitual DWI, all offenses of DUI in North Carolina are sentenced to one of six categories. If you have a past DWI conviction within the last seven years or have other significantly aggravating factors, you may be charged at Level A1, Level 1, or Level 2.

Most penalties for a DUI in North Carolina of levels three, four, and five are based on aggravating high BAC and mitigating factors like substance abuse treatment. They apply to first offenses. They are imposed if the violation occurs more than seven years after any previous crime and there are no grossly aggravating factors.

Level 5

The level 5 DUI penalties include paying up to a $200 fine and a jail term of 24 hours to 60 days. If you are imprisoned for at least 24 hours as a condition of special probation, the judge may suspend your sentence or do community service for at least 24 hours.

Level 4

Level 4 penalties include paying a fine of up to $500 and a prison term ranging from 48 hours to 120 days. However, the judge may consider suspending the sentence if you serve at least 48 hours in prison or complete at least 48 hours of community service as part of your special probation.

Level 3

Level 3 penalties are a fine of $1000, 72 hours to six months in prison. The jail term may be suspended as a condition of special probation. However, you will be imprisoned for at least 72 hours or perform at least 72 hours of community service.

Level 2

A Level 2 sentence is a severe offense. If at least one grossly aggravating factor is present, the judge must inflict level two punishment.

Penalties at Level 2 are a fine of up to $2,000 and a sentence of seven days to one year in prison. Instead of going to jail, the judge may enable you to complete 90 days of alcohol abstinence. You must wear a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet (CAM) for the duration of your abstinence to prove your sobriety.

However, if the judge authorizes CAM to be used instead of obligatory minimum jail time, you will be compelled to perform 240 hours of community service.

The provisions for losing your license that apply to Level One also apply to Level Two. In addition, the judge will need you to complete an alcohol treatment program before restoring driving privileges. However, you will be unable to obtain restricted driving privileges until your license is restored.

Level 1

The court awards the second most severe sentence under Level 1 sentencing. If two aggravating factors are present, a court must give you this verdict. If there was a passenger in the car under 18, the Level 1 sentence applies.

Penalties at Level 1 include a fine of up to $4,000. Prison sentences from 30 days to two years. The judge may enable you to complete 120 days of alcohol abstinence to lower your 30-day jail term to a 10-day sentence. Also, you’d wear a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet.

Finally, you will not be allowed to drive until the DMV issues you a new driver’s license. The length of time depends on how close your DWIs are.

Aggravated Level 1

The court administers the most severe sentence under Level A1 or Aggravated Level 1 sentencing. If three grossly aggravating factors are present, a court must impose this punishment.

Penalties at Level A1 include a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of one to three years. However, the judge may allow you to complete 120 days of alcohol abstinence to decrease the minimum sentence from one year to 120 days. Again, you’d wear a CAM bracelet to confirm your sobriety and will not be allowed to drive until the DMV returns your driver’s license.

License Suspensions for a North Carolina DWI

The driver’s license of anyone convicted of a DWI will be revoked by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After the revocation, the driver will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). The periods for revocations and IIDs are listed below and each depends on the number of offenses in the last seven years.

  • 1st Offense: A revocation period of one year and ignition interlock device for one year (until 21 years old if underage)
  • 2nd Offense: A revocation period of 4 years and an IID for three years.
  • 3rd Offense: A permanent revocation period and an IID for seven years.

Talk to a Hendersonville DUI Defense Lawyer Now!

When you or someone you care about has been arrested for a DUI, the long-term consequences of a possible conviction may not be your focus, but it’s critical to think about them. You have a better chance of reducing the penalties and moving on with your life if you contact an expert DUI lawyer.

A criminal defense attorney in Hendersonville, North Carolina, at Ashville DUI will help you with your case. We have the experience, knowledge, and skill to fight for you and assist you in defeating your DUI charges. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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