Aggravated DWI in North Carolina
If you’re facing aggravated DWI charges in North Carolina, it’s essential that you understand the severity of your situation. A DWI is already a serious charge, but if you commit other acts that worsen your offense, you can face even more severe penalties. In this blog post, we’ll look at what aggravated DWI is in North Carolina and some potential defenses against these charges. Let’s get started!
What is a DWI vs. Aggravated DWI?
If you’re facing aggravated DWI charges in North Carolina, you need to know what you’re up against. DWI stands for Driving While Impaired and is a serious charge on its own.
If convicted of DWI, you can lose your license for at least a year, face time in jail, and gain a lifetime criminal record for the rest of your life! There is no expungement for a DWI.
However, if you add aggravating factors to your charge, such as a high BAC or causing injury or death to another person, you can be looking at some very severe penalties.
With additional “aggravating” or “grossly aggravating” factors added to your DWI charge, you’ll need an experienced defense attorney to walk you through your options.
Levels of DWI in North Carolina
Level V: Punishable by a $200 fine and a jail sentence of 24 hours to 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence and require the driver to spend 24 hours in jail or perform 24 hours of community service.
Level IV: Punishable by a $500 fine and a jail sentence of 48 hours to 120 days. A judge can suspend the sentence and require the driver to spend 48 hours in jail or perform 48 hours of community service.
Level III: Punishable by a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of 72 hours to six months. A judge can suspend the sentence and require the driver to spend at least 72 hours in jail or perform 72 hours of community service.
Level II: Punishable by a $2,000 fine and a jail sentence of seven days to one year. A judge can only suspend the active sentence if the driver wears a continuous alcohol monitoring system for a minimum of 90 days.
Level I: Punishable by a $4,000 fine and a jail sentence of 30 days to two years. A judge CANNOT suspend the entire minimum sentence. A judge may reduce the minimum sentence if the driver wears a continuous alcohol monitoring system for a minimum of 90 days.
Aggravated Level I: Punishable by a $10,000 fine and a jail sentence of 12 months to three years. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence. Most sentenced under this Level are not eligible for parole.
Mandatory Jail Time
If you receive an Aggravated Level 1, Level 1, or Level 2 charge of misdemeanor DWI, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 7 to 365 days and a possibility of 3 years behind bars. Most Aggravated Level 1, Level 1, and Level 2 offenders are:
- Repeat offenders
- Driving on a suspended license because of a previous DWI
- Impaired as a driver who is transporting young children.
- Impaired driver who hurt someone in a crash.
Types of Aggravated DWI Charges in North Carolina
It’s imperative that you consult with an attorney about your DWI to determine if you are facing aggravating factors. Even if you have aggravating factors, your DWI charge is the same, and you are charged with “DWI.” Rather, if you are convicted, a judge will determine at sentencing if aggravating factors in your case affect your sentencing.
Aggravated sentencing for DWI may include factors such as:
- DWI with BAC of 0.15 percent or gross impairment of the driver’s faculties.
- Driving dangerously or recklessly.
- Negligent driving which led to an accident.
- Driving with a revoked license (non-DWI related).
- Driving by a stopped school bus.
- Speeding while fleeing or attempting to avoid arrest.
- Driving at least 30 mph over the posted speed limit.
- Two or more prior convictions for a traffic violation (non-DWI related) costing three points.
- One or more prior DWI convictions that happened more than seven years before the current offense.
Grossly Aggravating Factors Raise DWI Level Even More
Grossly Aggravating Factors Include:
- Previous DWI conviction within the past seven years.
- DWI conviction happening after your current offense, but before your sentencing
- Getting arrested for a DWI while driving on a prior DWI offense suspended license.
- DWI happens while in a car accident that caused serious injury or death
- DWI with a child under 18 or a person with a disability in your car.
Grossly Aggravating Factors Raise DWI Level
- One grossly aggravated factor = Level 2 DWI
- Two grossly aggravated factors = Level 1 DWI
- Three or more grossly aggravating factors = Level 1A DWI (Aggravated 1)
Penalties with higher level DWI and grossly aggravating factors can bring harsh penalties. Work with an experienced attorney to find a defense that helps you move forward with the most minor consequences!
Mitigating Factors Reduce Your DWI Level
If your defense attorney presents mitigating factors before the DA or judge, it can reduce the level of penalties you face. Judges look at all aggravating and all mitigating factors when deciding on a DWI case. Some mitigating factors include:
- Alcohol consumption without chemical analysis and only slight impairment with BAC of .09
- Alcohol consumption without chemical analysis and only slight impairment
- Besides DWI, you were following the law and driving safely.
- Besides DWI, you have a safe driving record or no convictions worth at least four points
- DWI on prescribed medication, according to the proper dosage.
- Voluntarily checking into a mental health facility for assessment.
- Completing substance abuse evaluation, complying with court recommendations, and abstaining from alcohol for 60 days using continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) system.
- Polite and cooperative with the officer
However, if there are grossly aggravating factors present in your case, mitigating factors cannot reduce the DWI Level. It is, therefore, extremely important to consult with an attorney about how to fight the DWI and, if facing a conviction, how to avoid jail time.
Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing a DWI with aggravating or grossly aggravating factors, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help investigate the facts of your case, challenge the evidence against you, and help you navigate the criminal justice system. When facing a DWI with aggravating factors, your future is on the line. Don’t risk it by going it alone or hiring an inexperienced attorney.
An excellent defense attorney will know strategies to defend your actions.
Work with us at Scharff Law to get results! Hiring an experienced attorney is vital when facing aggravated DWI charges. Call us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you!