DWI in a Nutshell

From July of 2012 until June of 2013, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported 61,425 Impaired Driving citations issued in North Carolina. Of this figure, Cumberland and Hoke Counties accounted for over 2,500 citations. These “impaired driving” citations included Driving While Impaired, Driving While Impaired in a Commercial Vehicle, Habitual Driving While Impaired, Aid and Abet and Driving After Consuming While Less Than 21 Years of Age. While the State’s burden of proof varies for each of these criminal offenses, each impaired driving charge shares a basic factual requirement.

Driving While Impaired under North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1 requires proof of the following four factors: A person must (1) drive (2) a vehicle (3) on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area (4a) while under the influence of an impairing substance, or (4b) after consuming a sufficient quantity of alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or (4c) with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.

If convicted of Driving While Impaired in the State of North Carolina, a person faces five (5) different levels of punishment depending upon his particular factual scenario. After conviction, a Judge will determine whether any Grossly Aggravating, Aggravating or Mitigating Factors apply to the case. The existence or lack thereof of these factors will determine the appropriate level of punishment issued by the Court.

North Carolina General Statute § 20-179 provides for the following punishments:

Level Potential Jail Sentence Mandatory Jail Sentence Mandatory Community Service Maximum Fine
A1 12-36 months 120 days No $10,000
1 1-24 months 30 days No $4,000
2 7 days—12 months 7 days Maybe $2,000
3 72 hours—6 months Court discretion 72 hours $1,000
4 48 hours—120 days Court discretion 48 hours $500
5 24 hours—60 days Court discretion 24 hours $200

Irregardless of the level of punishment received, a Driving While Impaired conviction will result in the loss of one’s license for at least one (1) year. However, some people will qualify for a limited driving privilege depending upon the level of punishment received and specific facts of the case. This limited driving privilege will enable someone to drive to work, school, and perhaps even for household purposes.

For more information contact Attorneys David T. Courie, Sr., Mark L. Hearp, or Cristina S. Quantock at 910-323-4600 or 910-875-3379.

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