Sentencing Factors for North Carolina DWIs

After getting arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, you will receive a citation or summons that gives you your court date. You will appear in court on this date to face your DWI charge. You will most likely have many questions running through your head. You are probably concerned about losing your driver’s license and, if so, for how long.

You may be worried about whether you will get fined or even be required to go to jail. Before you go to court, you should understand what DWI sentencing factors work for and against your case. You should also understand the potential penalties you are facing if you are convicted and what options you and your attorney have to minimize them. Understanding your options helps you make informed decisions. Contact the skilled Charlotte DWI attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.

DWI Sentencing Factors

If you are convicted of a DWI, the judge overseeing your case will sentence you during a sentencing hearing. Your sentence will be determined by North Carolina’s sentencing laws, which are found in General Statute §20-179. The sentencing factors stated in this statute will determine the sentencing level a judge can impose on you. According to the statute, there are six tiers, or levels, of DWI sentences. The judge will consider three different types of factors when determining your sentencing.

There are grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors. The court will impose harsher penalties on you when there are aggravating and grossly aggravating factors. Mitigating factors help the judge overseeing your sentencing act more leniently when sentencing you. An effective Charlotte DWI attorney can help you identify which DWI sentencing factors apply to your unique case.

Mitigating Factors in DWI Cases

Your attorney should emphasize the mitigating factors in your case. The more mitigating factors, the more likely it will be for you to receive a more lenient sentence. Mitigating factors favor the defendant and give the judge a reason to impose a lighter sentence on you. In North Carolina, mitigating factors include the following:

  • You tested with a slight impairment and a blood alcohol level of .09 or less
  • You completed a substance abuse assessment and completed the recommended treatment. You have at least 60 days of abstinence from alcohol, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet or CAM bracelet.
  • You only experienced slight impairment based on field sobriety tests without any blood chemical analysis. This factor is not included if you refuse tests.
  • Participating in an alcohol assessment program or treatment program before sentencing voluntarily
  • You were impaired by a legally prescribed medication of which you took the prescribed dosage.
  • You have a safe driving record. You cannot be convicted for any traffic offense that incurs four points on your record. Or, you have not been convicted of any traffic offenses that could result in having your license revoked within the last five years of the date of the current offense.
  • When you were arrested, driving was safe and lawful at the time of your arrest except for the impairment.
  • Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense
Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors will result in more serious penalties and include the following:

  • You were grossly impaired while driving with a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher
  • You engaged in especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • You were driving with a revoked license
  • You were driving in a negligent way that led to a reportable accident
  • You have two or more prior convictions for traffic offenses that incur at least three points on your record or which could result in a revoked license. Applicable if the offenses happened within five years of your DWI arrest. Or, you have a prior DWI more than seven years before your existing DWI arrest date.
  • You were speeding to avoid being arrested for a DWI
  • You were speeding more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • You passed a stopped school bus
  • Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense
Grossly Aggravating Factors

Grossly aggravating factors will result in much more serious penalties and include the following:

  • A prior DWI conviction within seven years of the date of the current DWI offense
  • A DWI conviction after the date of the DWI charge in question
  • Each prior DWI conviction is a separate grossly aggravating factor
  • Driving with a revoked license due to an impaired driving offense
  • Causing serious injury to another person as a result of your DWI
  • DWI with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you have been charged with a DWI in Charlotte, North Carolina, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are here to help. Contact a skilled defense attorney to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for you.