Aiding and Abetting DWI

If you or someone you know has ever been charged with aiding and abetting in Waxhaw or anywhere else in Monroe, Union County, you likely are confused with the charges themselves. This is because under North Carolina law, aiding and abetting DWI is charged and sentenced just like a DWI crime. The difference is, however, that aiding and abetting DWI applies to someone other than the person who was driving under the influence. While this seems to be a contradiction under the law, a charge of aiding and abetting DWI may carry some of the same harsh penalties that are imposed when someone is charged and convicted of an actual DWI.

If you or someone you know has been charged with aiding and abetting a DWI in Union County, it is vital that you have a knowledgeable North Carolina criminal defense attorney on your side. A skilled attorney will be experienced in defending individuals who are charged with driving while impaired and other related charges. This is crucial to your freedom. Do not leave it to chance.

Driving While Impaired (DWI) Explained

North Carolina law considers driving while impaired (DWI) to include more than just driving under the influence of alcohol. Indeed, a person may be found guilty in Waxhaw or another part of Monroe, Union County, of a DWI if he or she:

  • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more;
  • Is driving under the influence of any impairing substance;
  • Is under any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance.

Under North Carolina law, Schedule I controlled substances are the highest classification of illegal drugs in the state. Schedule I drugs include, among others, heroin, opiates, and ecstasy.

Aiding and Abetting Explained

North Carolina law considers aiding and abetting DWI to occur when a person knowingly aids, encourages, instigates, or advises another to drive (or attempt to drive) while impaired. While there are several different types of behaviors that can encompass an aiding and abetting DWI charge, the most common ones are when a person turns car keys over to an impaired driver or when someone is present as a passenger when an impaired driver is arrested for DWI.

North Carolina courts have held that when someone knowingly gives over control of his or her vehicle to a person who is impaired and allows that person to operate the vehicle without protest, he or she is just as guilty as the impaired driver. What happens, however, if you were unaware that the driver was impaired? Under state law, simply knowing that the driver had some drinks is typically not enough to justify an aiding and abetting DWI charge. Indeed, a court asks whether or not the accused knew, or should have known, that the potential driver was noticeably impaired. If the driver was not noticeably impaired, or if the accused did not provide the driver with the alcoholic beverages or drugs, this can be a helpful defense against a Union County aiding and abetting charge under this scenario. Whether or not a North Carolina court finds a person guilty of aiding and abetting will turn on the level of that person’s involvement in the DWI. Simply failing to stop an impaired person from driving is generally not enough to result in a conviction.

Penalties for Aiding and Abetting

Aiding and abetting a DWI is charged and sentenced under the separate sentencing guidelines under North Carolina law that is applicable to DWI crimes. This is because aiding and abetting is a charge that is connected to a DWI offense. In fact, North Carolina law classifies it as a level 5 DWI offense - the lowest of DWI offenses. That being said, a North Carolina court will typically take into consideration any aggravating or mitigating factors that may increase or decrease an accused’s sentence. When an aiding and abetting charge comes into play, however, the court need not take into account any findings of mitigating or aggravating factors.

Accordingly, all level 5 DWI offenses, including aiding and abetting a DWI, are punishable by a minimum of 24 hours to 60 days of jail time as well as a monetary fine of up to $200. It is possible, however, to negotiate community service instead of jail time when it comes to level 5 offenses. Negotiation of a lesser sentence for a DWI offense may be possible with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Legal Help in Union County

It is critical to remember that if you or someone you know is pulled over by North Carolina law enforcement, you do not have to answer any questions. This includes whether or not you or the driver has been drinking. Remember that your voluntary answers to police officers, no matter how innocent they may appear, can be used against you in a court of law. The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have defended the rights of those charged with DWI and non-DWI offenses for several years. Contact us today for your initial case evaluation.