Brad Interview Transcript 2
BH – Brant Hart
BS – Brad Smith
BH: Okay and I guess one of the things we also need to ask you Brad is what kind of penalties are associated with being convicted of DWI?
BS: DWI sentencing ranges, if it's your first DWI, if you didn't have a child in the car, if you don't have a prior driving while impaired conviction, if you didn't hurt somebody, your drivers license wasn't suspended for DWI, those list of things I just went through are what are called grossly aggravating factors. The DWI sentencing is based on the presence of grossly aggravating factors or what are called aggravating factors. Now if you have a grossly aggravating factor, again child, prior DWI within seven years, license has been suspended for DWI then you are looking at a mandatory minimum active sentence of seven days if you have one grossly aggravating factor. This gets boring and somewhat technical but if you have two grossly aggravating factors that are present then you're looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of thirty days and it sort of goes on from there. But usually the most common situation is you are getting a DWI, it's your first offense and traditionally it's what is called a level 5 sentencing. Sentencing goes from the most lenient sentencing being a level 5 all the way down to level 1 of course being the most severe sentence. A level 5 sentence is usually a judge is required to sentence you a mandatory minimum of at least 24 hours in jail but that 24 hours in jail can be substituted for 24 hours of community service. Along with that is usually a period of some sort of form of probation, and then you are generally required to go and obtain an alcohol substance abuse assessment and comply with whatever the recommendations of the substance abuse assessment as far as hours of treatment. And lastly, what is usually the most severe and the thing that people don't like the most if they get convicted of a DWI is that you lose your drivers license for one year. If you have a prior driving while impaired conviction, you've had a prior offense within seven years, then you lose your license for four years, and then it goes up from there until you reach what is called a permanent license suspension. So in North Carolina if you find yourself as a repeat offender in this sort of area then North Carolina has the right to do what is called a permanent revocation of your driver's license.
BH: Okay, I just thought of this question Brad, it's not really on the list here but do the judges as a criteria can age be a factor in the type of sentence that a judge imposes? Say for instance a young person who is under the legal drinking age who is caught with DWI, would the judge be harsher on him than he would be on maybe a middle aged person who has a first offense.
BS: Brant you know traditionally, well number one I guess, doing this about every day, you don't see a lot of older drivers a lot of times getting driving while impaired charges. Is there per se a provision in the law that says if you're younger your sentence is going to be greater, it's going to be harsher than if you are an older driver and the answer to that is no. Now along with those grossly aggravating factors and aggravating factors I just told you about, the law has what's called mitigating factors. Now age is not, if you are an older driver, age is not a catch-all mitigating factor but the court has the ability under its discretion there is a sort of catch-all mitigating factor that says whatever circumstance may tend to mitigate the offense. If you are an older driver, 65 and above and you have driven your entire life with a safe driving record and never had any sort of offense like this, or your are not somebody who is habitually speeding or getting charged with reckless driving I imagine that your age could be something factored in for the sentencing. One of the mitigating factors that you tend to commonly see is a person submitting in the sentencing hearing a driving record that is categorized as a safe driving record under law, and that means that there aren't any four point violations on your driving record in the last ten years. So that is a mitigating factor as well something that can mitigate sentence.
BH: Okay, and we do want to ask you this Brad we've talked about the different situations as far as losing the license and things like that but what are some of the other costs that a person might expect to pay when we talk about fees and court costs, insurance premiums and possibly having an interlock ignition device of some sort.Continue to Brad Interview Transcript 3 >>