When someone is arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Wilmington, or anywhere else in the state of North Carolina, it is important for them to begin fighting their charges as soon as possible. The professionals at DUIRights.com can help clients to build a strong defense for their court case and hopefully help to have their charges dismissed.
Penalties You Will Face for DUI in North Carolina
North Carolina, unlike some other states, has a level system of DUI offenders that helps to determine what penalties they will face after their conviction. Depending on the individual’s offender level, they could face a number of different penalties that can significantly impact their life. Some of these penalties for first time offenders, and the indicated offender level, are outlined below.
- Minimum of 24 hours in jail (level 5 offender) or minimum of 12 months (level 1A offender)
- $200 fine (level 5 offender)
- 60 day to 1 year license suspension
Knowing Your DUI Rights
Since it is not possible under North Carolina state law for an offender to plea to a lesser charge, such as “wet reckless,” the only way to avoid the fines and penalties of DUI is to have the case dismissed from court. A good DUI lawyer will look at all aspects of the offender’s case in order to find any evidence they can use as leverage to have the charges dropped. Since many individual’s rights are violated during a DUI arrest, an individual’s attorney will likely ask the following questions to determine which, if any, of the individual’s rights were violated – this can be used as a tool to get the case dismissed.
- What was the arresting officer’s reason for pulling the individual over and detaining them?
- Did the arresting officer read the individual their Miranda Rights?
- Did the arresting officer witness the individual driving the vehicle?
- Did the arresting officer administer a Breathalyzer test to the individual? When was the test given?
- What were the arresting officer’s observations of the individual’s behavior? Were those observations consistent with other witnesses at the time?
- Did the arresting officer administer proper field sobriety testing to the individual?
- Were there any outside factors that affected the outcome of the individual’s sobriety testing, such as weather conditions?
You still have a chance to improve your situation once you learn the steps needed to eliminate your North Carolina DWI charges. North Carolina DWI penalties have become inflated calculations by the court system favored towards the courts themselves and attorneys specializing in this field. DUIRights.com has helped thousands of people just like you. Good people with families, jobs, and friends. People who are now facing one of the worst days of their lives after being charged with DUI. We sincerely believe that people who make a mistake shouldn’t have to pay for it the rest of their lives.
Protect your rights and learn how to get your North Carolina DWI charges dismissed. Get Started Now by filling out the Free DUI Arrest Evaluation Form to get the answers you need.
No matter how guilty you may think you were at the time of the arrest, we want you to know one important thing: There is ALWAYS an aggressive and effective defense that will help you fight for the best possible outcome. In our experience, many officers do not follow proper field sobriety test procedures. In fact, challenging probable cause and the way field sobriety tests, blood tests and breath tests were administered is often a successful strategy to reduce or drop the charges. Also, many people plead guilty prematurely based on a breath test with a result above the legal limit. This is a common and costly mistake, as there are a variety of ways in having the breath test suppressed.
DUI/DWI Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina is unique is that it differentiates the levels of DUI when deciding on the penalties and fines. The state looks at “grossly aggravating factors” and “aggravating and mitigating factors” to decide how severe the violation is. One grossly aggravating factor is a level two violation, two factors is a level two violation, and three factor is a level 1A violation. If there are no grossly aggravating factors, the judge will consider the combination of aggravating and mitigating factors to decide the punishment.
Grossly Aggravating Factors:
- Child under the age of 18 in the car at the time of the arrest
- DWI while serving a current DWI license suspension
- Prior DWI arrest and conviction within seven years
- Serious injury caused to any person during the DWI
- BAC of .15+
- Driving with a revoked license
- Driving 30mph+ over the speed limit
- Illegal passing of a school bus
- Prior DWI conviction
- Reckless driving
- Trying to avoid officers during the arrest
- BAC not over .09
- Legal medication affected driving
- Obeying traffic laws (other than the DWI violation)
- Safe driving record
- Slight impairment
- Voluntary mental health facility assessment
Consequences for Refusing to Take Chemical Tests
North Carolina follows the implied consent law, so there are fines and penalties in place for refusing to take chemical tests:
- First offense – one-year license suspension
- Second offense – no statutory provision
- Third offense – no statutory provision
Challenging BAC Levels in Court
North Carolina is a Zero Tolerance state for underage drinking and driving. All other blood alcohol content (BAC) levels for DWI in North Carolina are consistent with those in other states:
- Drivers that are under the age of 21, .00 percent. Zero Tolerance
- Drivers 21 years of age and older, .08 percent
- Commercial drivers, .04 percent
Is There Mandatory Jail Time Required for a DUI/DWI in North Carolina?
Jail sentences are mandatory in North Carolina, but they are also dictated by the level of violation:
- First offense – 24 hours expect for Level 1A, which is a minimum of 12 months
- Second offense – four days except for Level 1A, which is a minimum of 12 months
- Third offense – between 14 and 30 days minimum with a maximum of two years except for Level 1A, which is a minimum of 12 months
The lookback period in New Carolina is usually seven years, but this may vary based on the level of the offense.
Monetary Fines and Penalties for DUI in North Carolina
The monetary fine in North Carolina is dictated by the level of the offense:
- First offense – $200 fine
- Second offense – fines range for level of violation
- Third offense – fines range for level of violation
License Suspension for DUI in North Carolina
All violations will garner some length of suspension, with repeat offenders seeing a longer suspension with recent DUI convictions:
- First offense – minimum of 60 days, maximum of one year
- Second offense – between one and four years (longer sentence for DWI within three years)
- Third offense – between one year to permanent loss of license (longer sentence for DWI within five years)
In North Carolina, an ignition interlock device (IID) is required for second time offenders and must be on the car for seven years on the third violation.
Finding a DUI Lawyer in North Carolina
Since the penalties for this crime are many and some severe, it is important for individuals charged with DUI or DWI to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. In many cases, the license suspension will begin as soon as the offender is charged with the crime and arrested and there will be limited time for a request for an administrative hearing to be held. During this hearing, the licenses suspension will be discussed and either upheld or dismissed. Another hearing will handle the determination of guilt.
Importance of a DUI Attorney in the State of North Carolina
An attorney should be present at both the administrative hearing to discuss the license suspension as well as the DUI hearing to determine the offender’s guilt. A reputable, experienced attorney will be able to explain the charges to the offender and different outcomes that are possible for the case. Additionally, he or she will look over the details of the case, the evidence presented by the state, and the events of the arrest to ensure that the client’s rights were not violated in any way during the process.
If the offender cannot afford to hire his or her own representative, the state will provide a public defender at no charge. Although this may seem like the best route to take, it is important to know that public defenders handle a number of different cases at a time and may not have the full amount of knowledge needed to handle the DUI case. In some cases, the public defender will suggest that the offender take a plea bargain or lesser charge which may still result in facing unneeded penalties.
Retaining a Private Practice Attorney
If the offender can afford to do so, it is generally recommended that he or she hire a private attorney to handle the case. A DUI attorney, or someone who is well-versed in DUI law, would be the best choice for representation. Since these attorneys have in-depth knowledge of DUI law and the procedures, it is possible for them to spot problems, mistakes, or omissions in the case that can be leveraged to the client’s advantage, such as reducing the charge or having the case dismissed outright.
With the varying degrees of penalties, a DUI in North Carolina should not be taken lightly. Anyone arrested and charged with DUI in North Carolina should immediately contact us to help them win the case.