Can a DWI Be a Felony in North Carolina?

By Joel Hancock

In the state of North Carolina, when it comes to driving while impaired, most offenses are misdemeanors. But despite only being a misdemeanor, the consequences of such a conviction can still be severe. It can result in a substantial fine, suspension of your license, and even jail time. And if that isn’t bad enough, a felony DWI charge is even more serious.  

In What Cases Can a DWI be a Felony in NC?

You can be charged with a DWI in North Carolina if you have a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. This is also the case if you have any amount of alcohol in your system and you are below the age of 21. A DWI doesn’t only relate to alcohol but is also applicable to prescription drugs and controlled substances. In this situation, the officer will judge your impairment based upon your performance on field sobriety tests. 

You can be charged with felony DWI in North Carolina if your circumstances include either of the following:

  • DWI-Related Fatalities – You may be charged with a DWI felony if you are alleged to be responsible for killing someone in an accident that was caused because you were under the influence. 
  • Repeat Drunk Driving Offenses – A DWI-related felony occurs if you are considered to be a habitual DWI offender under North Carolina law. Any subsequent drunk driving charges after that determination will be classified as a felony offense. A habitual DWI offender is someone who has three or more DWI offense convictions within the last 10 years. This also includes DWIs for individuals under the age of 21 and those who are convicted of DWI due to drugs.

The consequences of a felony DWI conviction are dependent upon the class of the felony:

  • Class B2 Felony – When considering the facts of your criminal history, those who commit death by vehicle may be found guilty of a Class B2 Felony. This is punishable by 94 to 393 months in prison.
  • Class D Felony – When considering the facts of your criminal history, those who commit death by vehicle may be found guilty of a Class D Felony. This is punishable by 38 to 160 months in prison. 
  • Class F Felony – Those charged as a habitual offender will be classified as a Class F Felony. This is punishable by 10 to 41 months in prison. 

There are additional consequences of a DWI conviction such as payment for court costs and other fees, employment issues, and revocation of your license. 

Defenses to DWI in NC

If you have been charged with DWI in North Carolina, there are possible defenses that you may be able to raise. You may be able to argue that your BAC number is invalid because the officer did not properly administer the test or the equipment was not adequately calibrated, or you may be able to raise a defense if your constitutional rights were violated (i.e. you were not read your Miranda Rights as you should have been, invalidating any incriminating statements you may have made).

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC We Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

Since the consequences of both a misdemeanor DWI and a felony DWI are severe and will have a long-lasting effect on your life, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight your charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, fill out a contact form or contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.
Posted in DWI