In 2011, the North Carolina legislature passed “Laura’s Law.” Laura’s law added a sixth sentencing level for aggravated DWI charges and is named after a North Carolina teenager killed when an impaired driver with multiple previous DWI convictions struck her vehicle. Those convicted of an aggravated level 1 DWI face a minimum jail sentence of one year and a maximum jail sentence of three years.
North Carolina prosecutors take aggravated DWI charges seriously. If you are facing aggravated level 1 DWI charges, it’s crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you’re convicted, you will face at least a year behind bars. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your constitutional rights. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about how he can protect your rights and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.
North Carolina’s Aggravated DWI Laws
North Carolina judges determine the defendant’s sentence after a DWI conviction. Once the defendant is convicted of a DWI, the judge overseeing the case will consider the mitigating, aggravating, and grossly aggravating factors that will determine the defendant’s sentence. These factors will decrease or increase the severity of the sentence. For example, when a defendant has three or more grossly aggravating factors, he or she will receive the harshest sentence possible, called an aggravated level one sentence.
Aggravated Level 1 Sentences in North Carolina DWI Cases
When a judge sentences a defendant with an aggravated level 1 DUI, the defendant will receive a minimum jail sentence of one year and a maximum sentence of three years. Judges cannot sentence the defendant to less than one year in prison when the defendant has three or more grossly aggravating factors due to these mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. Additionally, the defendant will be subjected to a fine of up to $10,000.
Judges can only suspend the prison sentence when a condition of special probation is imposed that requires the defendant to serve an active jail sentence of at least 120 days. As a condition of probation, the judge overseeing the case must require that the defendant abstains from alcohol for at least 120 days. The defendant will be subjected to a continuous alcohol monitoring system.
Grossly Aggravating Factors in North Carolina DWI Sentencing
Aggravated Level 1 DWI charges are intended to target individuals who are repeatedly caught driving while impaired. The following factors are considered grossly aggravating factors. When the judge determines that three or more of these grossly aggravating factors have occurred, the defendant will face an aggravated DWI charge:
- The defendant had two or more previous traffic violation convictions that cost three points or more each
- The defendant was speeding while attempting to flee arrest
- The defendant had one or more prior DUI convictions within the past seven years
- The defendant drove at least 30 miles an hour above the posted speed limit
- The defendant drove past the school bus without stopping during the DWI
- The defendant was driving dangerously or recklessly during the DWI
- The driver was driving with gross impairment of his or her faculties
- The driver was driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .15 percent or higher
- The driver was driving with a driver’s license revoked for an impaired driving offense
Level One DWI Sentences
When you work with Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we will attempt to get your aggravated DWI charges dismissed or reduced. Getting a DWI reduced to a level 1 DWI will help you avoid the more severe penalties associated with an aggravated DWI. It’s often possible to get a defendant’s charges reduced by proving that fewer than three aggravating factors have occurred.
When a defendant has two grossly aggravating factors or had a minor child in the vehicle during the DWI, the judge will impose a level one DUI sentence. The penalties for a level 1 DWI include a jail sentence of at least 30 days to two years and up to a $4,000 fine. When the aggravating factors exceed the mitigating factors, the judge will charge the defendant with a level 3 DWI sentence. This sentence carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and a fine of no more than $1,000.
Rehab Is Not An Option for An Aggravated DWI Conviction
When you’re convicted of an aggravated level 1 DWI, you cannot expect the court to eliminate or reduce the amount of active time you will spend in jail by checking yourself into an inpatient treatment facility. With other DWI charges, checking yourself into rehab is one of the best ways to avoid or diminish your time spent in jail.
However, you may be able to cut down the amount of time you spend in jail by using a secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet. You will wear this bracelet around your ankle, and it will collect a sample of the air from around your body to determine your blood alcohol level. You will need to pay for the installation and daily monitoring fees.
North Carolina judges are not required to give you credit for time served by participating in the SCRAM program, but they can do so under certain circumstances. To avoid spending as much time in jail, you need an experienced lawyer who can present evidence so that the prosecution cannot prove its case against you.
Contact a Carteret County Aggravated DWI Lawyer Today
Are you or your loved one facing an aggravated DWI charge in North Carolina? If so, we recommend consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you discuss your case with the police. Attorney Joel Hancock of Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, has helped many Beaufort area clients fight aggravated DWI charges. He will carefully investigate your case and develop an effective defense strategy. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your initial consultation.