• North Carolina DWI Law | Understanding a NC DWI Conviction
  • June 20, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • For those who have been charged with a North Carolina DWI they quickly learn of all the affects this will have on your life. As a Durham DWI Lawyer and Raleigh DWI Lawyer , I know too well what a North Carolina DWI Charge can mean for the average person, let alone what a Driving While Intoxicated conviction carries with it. When providing my consultations to potential clients, we carefully review what a conviction will carry with it, including what potential sentencing structure they could face, as well as all of the secondary affects that can occur with a Driving While Intoxicated conviction.

    The most obvious place to start is the actual sentence of a DWI conviction in North Carolina. Since the implementation of Laura’s Law on December 1, 2011, there are now 6 levels of sentencing that a driver could face. They each carry with them the potential of jail time, however only the top three, hardest sentences (Level 2, Level 1, and Aggravated Level 1) carry with them mandatory jail sentences. The lower three levels (Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5) can carry with them jail time, but most often, the Defendant is given an opportunity to complete a set number of community service in lieu of jail time. If assigned community service, their are costs associated with it that must be paid to the court.

    Each North Carolina DWI Sentencing Level has a a fine which can run from $200 all the way to as much as $10,000, at the Judge's discretion, with consideration for the sentencing level.

    Finally, the Judge may require the Defendant to be placed under supervised or unsupervised probation (or a combination of the two). If placed under supervised probation, the Defendant will have a probation officer they will be required to meet with. There are also costs associated with being placed on supervised probation which must be paid to the court.

    In every North Carolina DWI Conviction, the Defendant is ordered to surrender their license for 1 year. The Defendant can petition the court for a limited driving privilege, immediately after the conviction, unless the Driver had a blood/alcohol level of .15 or above, in which case the Driver would have to wait 45 days before petitioning the court for the limited driving privilege.

    Additionally, should the driver be convicted with a blood alcohol level of .15 or above, the court will order them to have an Interlock device installed before they are permitted to drive again (whether under a Limited Driving Privilege or once they have received their license back). The Interlock device is a breathalyzer device wired to the vehicles ignition system which will only permit the vehicle to start after having blown into the device and not have any alcohol on the driver's breath. The device will have the blown in multiple times for each drive (to try and prevent having someone else blow in the device before the Driver can drive). The Interlock device must remain installed for 1 year, during which time, the Driver is responsible not only for the initial installation costs, but the monthly upkeep costs associated with the device.

    Another result of a DWI conviction is 12 points accrued under the North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan. This plan controls how much Insurance companies may increase a Driver's insurance premium as a result of certain convictions. 12 points will result in an increase of up to 400% for the next three years.

    In some counties, the Judge may have other requirements they want the Driver to complete. As an example, in Durham county, Judge's routinely require Defendant's who are convicted of a DWI to attend a Victim Impact Panel hosted by M.A.D.D. (Mother's Against Drunk Driving). This panel brings in survivors and/or family members of those who died as a result of a drunk driver to speak about the impact on their lives.

    The final thing to consider when facing a North Carolina DWI conviction is the fact that there will now be a conviction on the Defendant's record for that offense.

    In order to find out whether you may have a defense to your DWI charge, speak with a local DWI lawyer for advice on your particular case.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.