What Happens if You Get a DWI in North Carolina?
Medically Verified: 2/1/24
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
In America, the yearly average of DWI arrests is nearly 900,000. This means that at least 900,000 individuals are caught driving while intoxicated each year.
Alcohol abuse in North Carolina is on the rise, causing a spike of DWI charges to occur across the state. If you have recently been charged with a DWI, it’s important for you to understand your rights. Let’s take a look at exactly what happens if you get a first-time DWI in North Carolina.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in North Carolina?
Typically, a DWI charge indicates that an individual was operating a vehicle while having over the legal limit of alcohol in their bloodstream. On the other hand, a DUI typically means that an individual was operating a vehicle while under the influence of a drug or unidentifiable intoxicant. However, North Carolina does not have a distinction between the two, and all charges are filed as a DWI. In other words, North Carolina views operating a vehicle under the influence of cocaine as the same thing as drinking and driving.
What Is The Penalty for Getting a DWI in North Carolina?
There are five different levels of DWI charges in North Carolina, with level one being the most severe and level five being the least. Let’s take a look at each level of DWI charges and what exactly they mean.
A Level V DWI charge in North Carolina is considered the least severe. These charges are punishable by a fine of up to $200 with a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. However, a judge may suspend the sentence if the driver spends 24 hours in jail, performs 24 hours of community service, or does not operate a vehicle for 30 days.
Level IV DWI charges are punishable by a fine of up to $500 with a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum sentence of 120 days. Similar to Level V charges, a judge may suspend the sentence of a Level IV charge if the individual spends 48 hours in jail, completes 48 hours of community service, or does not operate a vehicle for 60 days.
As we continue to increase in the charge severity, the punishments will become more severe as well. Level III DWI charges in North Carolina are punishable by a fine up to $1,000, with a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of six months. As always, a judge may suspend the sentence if the driver spends at least 72 hours in jail, performs 72 hours of community service, or does not operate a vehicle for 90 days.
This charge only occurs for repeat DWI offenders, individuals whose licenses are revoked, impaired drivers, impaired drivers who are transporting young children, or impaired drivers who hurt someone in a crash. Level II DWI charges are punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, with a minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum sentence of one year. Unfortunately, a judge cannot suspend this sentence.
Like the Level II charges, Level I DWI charges are given to repeat DWI offenders, individuals with revoked or suspended licenses, impaired drivers who have young children in the car, or impaired drivers who caused an injury. A Level I DWI charge is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, with a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a maximum sentence of two years. Once again, judges cannot suspend this sentence.
Habitual DWI offenders are described as individuals who have been charged with three DWIs in the past seven years in North Carolina. The state statutes for felony DWIs mandates a minimum of one year in jail, which is a sentence that cannot be suspended. Additionally, offenders must undergo a substance abuse program while in jail or as a condition of parole.
Can You Get a DWI Dismissed in North Carolina?
Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs is a major crime, especially in North Carolina. Generally speaking, DWI charges can be dismissed in North Carolina depending on a number of factors, including a careful review of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, and the fourth amendment. In other words, just having a clean driving record will not merit a dismissal of DWI charges in North Carolina.
To get a DWI charge dismissed, the judge will begin by reviewing whether the stop was valid. The judge should ask what made the officer approach your vehicle. These factors will be brought up and evaluated:
- Was the offender speeding?
- Did they have trouble maintaining lane control?
- Were they weaving within your lane?
- Were they following other vehicles too closely?
- Were they changing lanes abruptly?
- Were they involved in an accident?
- Did they respond to red lights or green lights in a timely fashion?
- Did they fall asleep behind the wheel?
If the answer is “yes”, to any of these questions, the officer had reasonable suspicion and probable cause to pull you over. In other words, the charges will not be dismissed.
Find Help Today
If you or a loved one have recently been charged with a DWI in North Carolina and are in need of a treatment center to meet your parole requirements, look no further. Not only will Carolina Recovery Center help you complete your parole, but we will also provide you with the support and treatment you need to live a substance-free and happy life. If you would like to reap the benefits of quitting drinking, contact us today for more information on how to get started.