If you’ve been convicted of driving while impaired within the previous seven years, you could face much more serious penalties than a first offender. Under North Carolina law, a prior DWI conviction is considered as an aggravating factor in sentencing, which usually leads to a tougher sentence. Carolina Law Group, headed by Tommy Kellis, is a New Bern law firm that defends North Carolina motorists accused of operating a vehicle while impaired. Our firm can explain the potential consequences of a second, third or fourth DWI conviction. From there, we will develop a comprehensive legal strategy aimed at achieving the best result possible under the circumstances.
North Carolina has six sentencing levels for DWI charges, with Level I being the most serious. Many individuals with a DWI conviction on their record are sentenced in Levels I and II. Jail sentences cannot be suspended in these levels. Level II carries a minimum seven-day jail term and a maximum one-year sentence. Level I convictions are punishable by between 30 days and two years of incarceration. This is in addition to the fines and license suspensions that are imposed in DWI cases. Level III cases are punishable by a top fine of $1,000 with the maximum amount rising to $4,000 for a Level I matter. In aggravated DWI cases, referred to as Level I-A, the highest possible fine is $10.000 and you could spend from 12 to 36 months behind bars.
A previous DWI is a key factor that moves a driver’s case into the tougher sentencing levels. Other factors are used to increase punishment as well. North Carolina lists several grossly aggravating factors, such as a blood-alcohol concentration of at least .15 percent, an accident that occurs while the driver is impaired or the fact that someone under 18 years old was in the car while the driver was drunk. Speeding or reckless operation of the car while impaired are standard aggravating factors in a DWI case. The fact that you were obeying other traffic rules and/or if you’ve voluntarily sought treatment for substance abuse can be mitigating factors.
You face a one-year license suspension for a first DWI conviction, but loss of driving privileges lasts much longer for multiple offenders. Upon a second conviction, you might be punished with a four-year license suspension. When someone is found guilty of drunk driving three times in a seven-year period, their license can be revoked permanently. However, there is the possibility of a Limited Driver’s Privilege that allows you to drive to work, school, substance abuse treatment and religious services. We can advise you on a strategy to restore your ability to drive legally.
Even if your Breathalyzer result exceeds the legal limit, which is a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent for most drivers, there are defenses to a drunk driving charge. Finding the right lawyer to defend your rights is especially important if you’re facing an enhanced multiple offender sentence. Our DUI defense attorneys will investigate to determine if the police officer had proper legal grounds to make the vehicle stop and can also hire an expert to see if your test results were tainted.
The Carolina Law Group in New Bern represents clients who are facing enhanced penalties in North Carolina DWI cases due to previous drunk driving convictions. Please call us at 252-672-2059 or contact us online to speak with a respected lawyer.