Areas Of Practice
Drunk Driving Penalties in North Carolina
DWI Defense Attorney in Greenville
North Carolina has one of the most complex DWI punishment systems in the country. The penalties for conviction vary greatly depending on your history, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Make sure you hire an experienced DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible so you can learn about what you are facing and how to fight the charges.
At the Greenville-based Law Office of Matthew J. Davenport, we fight drunk driving charges for our clients every day. Attorney Matt Davenport is a former Pitt County assistant district attorney who has prosecuted many drunk driving cases and now focuses on DWI defense. He has nearly 15 years of legal experience and fully understands the penalties you may be facing. Our goal as a firm is to minimize the harshness of the penalties for our clients so they can move on with their lives.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in Sentencing
A sentencing hearing occurs after a conviction. The judge determines at this hearing what punishment to impose, but only after considering aggravating and mitigating factors:
- Grossly aggravating factors: If two or more of these factors are present, the harshest punishment is imposed. If one is present, then the second harshest punishment is imposed. Grossly aggravating factors include a prior DWI conviction in the last seven years; offense committed while your driver's license was revoked for DWI; causing serious injury to someone else because you were drunk; driving drunk with someone under age 16 in the vehicle.
If there are no grossly aggravating factors, the judge will then consider any aggravating or mitigating factors.
- Aggravating factors: These include driving with a BAC of .16 or higher; reckless or dangerous driving; driving while revoked for something other than DWI; fleeing or attempting to evade police; speeding at least 30 mph over the limit; passing a stopped school bus; other factors that make the offense more serious.
- Mitigating factors (things that are helpful to you): BAC of .09 or less; a safe driving record; you were driving safely except for the impairment; voluntary submission for mental health treatment; any other factor that makes the offense appear less serious.
If the judge finds that the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors, you will face Level Three punishment. If there are no aggravating or mitigating factors, or if the factors carry equal weight, Level Four punishment is handed down. If the mitigating factors substantially outweigh any aggravating factors, Level Five punishment is the result.
The Levels of Punishment
There are five levels of punishment for DWI in North Carolina. Level Five is the least serious, Level One is the most serious.
- Level Five: Up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $200
- Level Four: Up to 120 days in jail and fines of up to $500
- Level Three: Up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000
- Level Two: Up to one year in prison and fines of up to $2,000
- Level One: Up to two years in prison and fines of up to $4,000
Those with commercial driver's licenses and those who are underage face additional special considerations. But as always, the best thing to do regardless of your age or the type of license you hold is to hire an experienced lawyer to protect your rights through this process.
Contact a Pitt County Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
To learn more about our approach to protecting young drivers who face drunk driving charges, call 866-346-2985 or send us an email. Based in Greenville, we help people in Pitt County and throughout the state.