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First DWI Offense: What Happens If You Don’t Fight

If you are facing DWI criminal charges in North Carolina, knowing what can happen if you don’t fight the charge is essential. A first offense can result in a jail sentence, fines, loss of driver’s license, and a permanent criminal record. Before deciding what to do about your DWI, it’s essential to understand the consequences of pleading guilty to a first offense. This blog post will discuss the potential effects of not fighting your DWI charge and what to do instead!

You might feel tempted to plead guilty and avoid paying an attorney, but this would be a big mistake. Make an informed decision about your case by understanding the possible consequences of a first DWI conviction.

What is a DWI First Offense in North Carolina?

DWI in North Carolina stands for “Driving While Impaired.” If you face charges with DWI, this likely means law enforcement gave you a breathalyzer test or chemical drug test, and your results showed:

  • Blood alcohol level over .08
  • Over .04 for a commercial driver or bus driver
  • Over 0.00 for someone under 21
  • Medications in your system causing impaired mental or physical faculties
  • Illegal drugs in your system
  • Obvious signs of impairment regardless of any test results

Penalties vary depending on the factors listed above. However, generally, you can expect to face some of the following consequences if convicted of DWI in NC:

  • Fines
  • Jail time and DWI probation
  • Community service
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle
  • Other alcohol monitoring devices
  • Higher car insurance premiums

With a first-time DWI, you can face misdemeanor convictions and likely attend an alcohol assessment, alcohol education classes, or treatment programs.

In North Carolina, even with a first offense, misdemeanors carry civil consequences such as administrative license revocation (license suspension), loss of a professional license, and a ruined career. Criminal charges you may face include financial penalties such as fines, a permanent “violent” criminal record, and county jail time!

You may need to agree to an ignition interlock device or a DWI probation period in addition to jail time. However, an experienced criminal DWI defense attorney can ensure your best defense against DWI charges!

first DWI offense

Consequences of A First Offense DWI Charge

Even the lowest Level 5 DWI can have serious consequences.

Punishable by a fine up to $200, a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, and a maximum of 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence and require the driver to spend 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.

DWI convictions vary significantly in their consequences. When sentencing for a commonly committed crime such as DWI, a judge will look at many circumstances.

If you have mitigating circumstances, your attorney can submit these to the judge to ensure that you are sentenced at a lower level and have less consequences. 

Mitigating Factors Include:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) did not exceed 0.09, and your impairment was solely from alcohol.
  • Slight impairment of your faculties with no chemical analysis available.
  • Driving at the time of the offense was otherwise safe and lawful.
  • A safe driving record.
  • Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug taken within the prescribed dosage.
  • Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and treatment.
  • Completion of substance abuse assessment, compliance with recommendations, and 60 days of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring.
  • Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

However, if you have aggravating circumstances, you could face severe consequences, including felony DWI charges and severe criminal penalties, even with a first offense.

Aggravating Factors Include:

  • Gross impairment or a BAC of 0.15 or more.
  • Prior DWI conviction
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
  • Negligent driving leading to a reportable accident.
  • Driving with a revoked driver’s license
  • A specified conviction record of driving history.
  • Speeding while fleeing or attempting to elude apprehension.
  • Speeding by at least 30 mph over the legal limit.
  • Passing a stopped school bus.
  • Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

How to Fight a First DWI Charge

Just showing up in court to say you’re guilty of a DWI first-offense and agreeing your BAC was over the legal limit leaves you open to penalties! If you plead guilty, there is no trial, but the next step is to prepare for a sentencing hearing. (2)

Even with a first-offense DWI in North Carolina, going to court for sentencing without a knowledgeable DWI attorney is not in your best interest!

Whatever charges you face, an experienced DWI lawyer can help you negotiate your DWI case with the District Attorney’s office. Often, you can plead guilty to only one of several charges. Or the prosecution may agree to a specific sentence with your attorney.

Your experienced DWI defense attorney can mount a DWI defense by looking at many ways to fight your charges, even if your sobriety tests reveal a dangerous drug in your system.

Some of the factors that can help your criminal defense attorney fight your DWI charges include:

  • How the arresting officer determined to pull you over
  • Whether the arresting officer violated your rights, such as refusing you a witness during sobriety testing or giving you improper sobriety tests
  • Validity of your blood test
  • Legal validity of a traffic stop such as a sobriety checkpoint
  • Loss of evidence

It’s almost impossible to defend yourself against DWI charges without help. Especially if you face DWI felony charges, you could spend time in the state jail system without an experienced DWI criminal defense attorney’s help!

Let Our Experienced DWI Attorneys Help Fight Your DWI Charges

At Scharff Law in Raleigh, an experienced DWI attorney can walk you through each step of fighting your DWI charge. With many successful DWI cases, our firm can help with first-time DWI, a second offense DWI, or even a third offense DWI. Because DWI convictions are not something to play around with, it’s crucial to understand the charges you face!

With a DWI lawyer on your side, you have a fighting chance to mitigate the consequences or beat the charge at trial!