DWI Laws and Penalties

DWI, also known as “driving while impaired,” is a serious offense with great repercussions in North Carolina, including fines, loss of license, jail time, and tainted reputation. It’s important to understand DWI laws and North Carolina DWI penalty levels, should you or someone you know finds themselves in this tough situation.

DWI Defined

According to North Carolina General Statute 20-138.1, a person commits the offense of impaired driving if he/she drives any vehicle upon a highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

  • While under the influence of an impaired substance; or
  • After consuming sufficient alcohol that he/she has, at any relevant time after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.  The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or
  • With any amount of Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his/her blood or urine.

DWI Penalty Levels

If you receive a DWI and are 21 years or older, North Carolina penalties are based on the weight of aggravating and mitigating factors. Some aggravating factors include:

  • Prior DWI convictions
  • Children present in vehicle
  • BAC of .15 or higher
  • Was there an accident

Some mitigating factors include:

  • BAC of .09 or lower
  • Receiving an alcohol assessment prior to sentencing
  • Having a safe driving record

North Carolina follows six DWI punishments, ranging from Level 5 as the least serious to Level A1 as the most serious.

Level 5

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days with possible limited driving privileges for 1 year
  • Up to $200 fine
  • Between 24 hours to 60 days in jail
    • Judge may suspend the 24 hour active sentence and allow for 24 hours of community service
  • Alcohol assessment or recommended treatment

Level 4

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days with possible limited driving privileges for 1 year
  • Up to $500 fine
  • Between 48 hours to 6 months in jail
    • Judge may suspend the 48 hour active sentence and allow for 48 hours of community service
  • Alcohol assessment or recommended treatment

Level 3

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days with possible limited driving privileges for 1 year
  • Up to $1,000 fine
  • Between 72 hours to 6 months in jail
    • Judge may suspend the 72 hour active sentence and allow for 72 hours of community service
  • Alcohol assessment or recommended treatment

Level 2

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days
  • Up to $2,000 fine
  • Between 7 days to 12 months in jail
    • Judge may suspend the active sentence to 90 days of abstaining from alcohol, which will be monitored
  • Alcohol assessment or recommended treatment

Level 1

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days
  • Up to $4,000 fine
  • Between 30 days to 24 months in jail
    • Judge may grant 10 days under probation and 120 days of alcohol monitoring
  • Alcohol assessment or recommended treatment

Level A1 (Aggravated)

  • Immediate license suspension for 30 days
  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • Between 12 months to 36 months in jail
    • Judge may grant 20 days under probation and 120 days of alcohol monitoring
  • Monitored abstaining from alcohol for 4 months after prison release
  • Substance abuse assessment or recommended treatment

Because a DWI can result in substantial consequences, it’s important to have a qualified expert helping your case, like the DWI attorneys at Mulligan Epstein. Our lawyers can assist with filing paperwork, appearing in court alongside you, and helping you obtain the best outcome for your case. We’re here with you every step of the way and always apply our experience and training towards finding any possible defense to your case.

What Qualifies as a Vehicle for North Carolina DWI Laws?

f you are like most people who want to avoid a DWI charge, you take several steps to protect yourself from harm. Some people, though, make critical mistakes that can impact their lives in many ways, and you don’t want to fall into that trap. You can protect yourself...

Can You Get a Hangover DWI?

Some people go out drinking with their friends and opt to take a taxi home so that they can stay safe and avoid a DWI charge, which is a smart move. The problem, however, is that those people often go to work the next morning and don’t realize that the alcohol...