WHAT IS DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED (DWI)?
Driving While Impaired is a misdemeanor (sometimes a felony) involving the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance. A DWI is often referred to as a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence.
North Carolina General Statute §20-138.1 provides the statutory requirements necessary to be charged with a DWI. Pursuant to that statute, an individual must operate a motor vehicle on a public road, street, highway or public vehicular area (PVA) with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. For those motorist who operate a commercial motor vehicle, the requisite BAC drops to .04%.
Driving While Impaired can result from impairing substances other than alcohol. Other impairing substances can include prescription medications, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamines and other illegal substances.
WHAT TYPE OF PUNISHMENT CAN I EXPECT IF I GET CONVICTED OF A DWI?
There are 5 levels of punishment authorized by North Carolina General Statutes for persons convicted of Driving While Impaired. Determining the punishment for a conviction is not a simple task. There are many factors that must be weighed in order to determine the appropriate level of punishment.
Grossly Aggravating Factors:
* A conviction for an offense involving impaired driving within the last 7 years
* A District Court conviction that is appealed and either withdrawn or remanded, not yet resentenced
* At the time of the present DWI, the defendant's license was revoked for an impaired revocation
* Serious bodily injury to another person at the hands of the defendant
* Having a child under the age of 18, a child with the mental development of a child under 18, or a physically disabled person who cannot exit unaided in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
* BAC ≥ .15%
* Especially reckless or otherwise dangerous driving
* Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident
* At the time of driving, the defendant’s license was in a state of revocation for reasons other than a prior impaired driving revocation
* Two or more prior convictions of a motor vehicle offense for which at least 3 points are assessed within 5 years the present DWI
* A prior conviction of DWI which occurred outside of 7 years
* Conviction of speeding while fleeing or attempting to flee apprehension
* Conviction for speeding by at least 30 MPH over the legal speed limit
* “Any other” factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.
* Continuous Alcohol Monitoring
* Statutorily clean driving record
* Slight impairment from alcohol only and BAC ≤ .09%
* Defendant obtained a substance abuse assessment
* Driving at the time of the offense was lawful except for the impairment
* “Any other” factor that mitigates the severity of the offense
* Impairment caused by prescribed substances taken within the prescribed
Level A1 Punishment (Aggravated Level One - The Most Severe)
* May be fined up to $10,000.00
* Includes a minimum mandatory active jail sentence of no less than 12 months and a maximum of 36 months.
* If you have 3 or more grossly aggravating factors, you will be sentenced as an aggravated level 1.
Level One Punishment
* May be fined up to $4000.00
* Includes a minimum mandatory active jail sentence of no less than 30 days and a maximum of 24 months
* If you have 2 grossly aggravating factors or have the age/disability factor, you will be sentenced as a level 1.
Level Two Punishment
* May be fined up to $2000.00
* Includes a minimum mandatory 7 days jail sentence and a maximum of 12 months.
* If you have 1 grossly aggravating factor, you will be sentenced as a level 2.
Level Three Punishment
* May be fined up to $1000.00
* Includes a minimum 72 Hours in Jail, or 72 Hours of Community Service (you may or may not have a choice) and a maximum of 6 months.
* You will be sentenced as a level 3 if your aggravating factors outweigh your mitigating factors.
Level Four Punishment
* May be fined up to $500.00
* Includes a minimum of 48 Hours in jail, or 48 Hours of Community Service (you may or may not have a choice) and a maximum of 120 days.
* You will be sentenced as a level 4 if your mitigating and aggravating factor balance.
Level Five Punishment (The Least Severe)
* May be fined up to $200.00
* Includes a minimum of 24 Hours in jail, or 24 Hours of Community Service (you may or may not have a choice) and a maximum of 60 days in jail.
* You will be sentenced as a level 5 if and only if your mitigating factors outweigh your aggravating factors.
This is just some of the information regarding Driving While Impaired in North Carolina. If you are charged with a DWI, let us help you protect your future! Contact the Law Office of John H. Hunter III, PLLC