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What factors influence the level of a North Carolina DWI charge?

| Aug 21, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Not all criminal charges carry the same penalties and consequences. In fact, even offenses that fall under the same general category can vary in severity. Those accused of driving while impaired DWI in North Carolina will face charges ranging from Level V to Level I.

Level V DWI charges are the least severe, with Level I being the most serious charges with steeper penalties. The difference in penalties between the levels is drastic.

A Level V DWI carries a fine of up to $200 and between 24 hours in 60 days in jail. A Level I offense carries a fine of up to $4,000 and at least 30 days but up to two years in jail. What factors influence the level of the DWI charges that someone faces?

North Carolina prosecutors look at aggravating factors

In almost all cases, those facing Level I or Level II DWI charges have a history of multiple impaired driving offenses. Generally, the courts can only look back seven years to determine a history of DWI offenses. If someone does have a recent DWI history, the judge overseeing the trial does not have the option of suspending the minimum sentence. In some cases, the charges may also become felony DWI offenses.

Drivers who had children in their vehicle at the time of their arrest and those who cause a crash that produces injury or death may also face Level I or Level II charges. Trying to evade police, driving in a reckless manner and driving with a suspended license can all impact the severity of the charges. The same is true for drivers with very high concentrations of alcohol in their bloodstream, such as a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher.