North Carolina has some of the strictest driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws in the United States, even more so when multiple DWIs are involved. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to making the strongest possible argument on your behalf and to poking holes in the state’s evidence. The Hancock Law Firm is here to thoroughly review the facts in your case and defend your rights.
Multiple DWI Convictions Can Mean Revocation Of Your Driver’s License
If you have one or more prior DWIs, the potential legal consequences can be substantial. One of the major ones is loss of your driver’s license. Losing your license will make it more difficult to earn a living and take care of other obligations.
The nature of your license revocation will vary depending upon how many DWI convictions you have, and how recent they were:
- If you’ve had a DWI conviction within seven years of the date of your current DWI offense, a new conviction means you will lose your license for at least a year. This revocation will be imposed without the possibility of a limited driving privilege.
- If you’ve had a DWI conviction within three years of the date of your current DWI offense, a new conviction means you will lose your license for four years. You may apply for a limited driving privilege only after two years of the four-year suspension.
- If you’re convicted of a third DWI, and the most recent DWI conviction occurred within five years, your license will be permanently revoked. You may apply for a limited driving privilege only after three years of the revocation.
There Are Other Legal Consequences Besides Losing Your License
Revocation is only one consequence of multiple DWI convictions. The following are additional criminal punishments:
- Payment of a fine up to $10,000
- Mandatory alcohol education classes
- Completing any recommended treatment
- Significant community service hours
- Having an ignition interlock device, or IID, installed in your automobile
- Up to three years of jail time
Multiple DWI Conviction May Be An Aggravating or Grossly Aggravating Factor
An aggravating or grossly aggravating factor essentially makes a criminal punishment worse. In North Carolina, a prior conviction may fall into one of these two categories. After you are convicted, the court will hold a sentencing hearing to determine your punishment. At the hearing, the judge will take into consideration aggravating and grossly aggravating factors, as required by law. Any mitigating factors will also be factored into the sentencing.
The following are examples of aggravating factors:
- A blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher at the time of the DWI
- Especially reckless driving behavior
- Negligent driving that caused a reportable accident
- Driving with a revoked license
- Speeding to evade arrest
- Speeding 30 mph or more over the speed limit
- Passing a school bus
- A prior conviction that happened more than seven years before the date of the current DWI charge
Grossly aggravating factors include but are not limited to:
- A prior conviction that occurred within seven years of the current DWI
- Driving with a license that has been revoked because of a prior DWI conviction
- Your impaired driving condition caused serious injury to another person
- Driving with a minor (person under age 18) in your vehicle
There may be mitigating factors in your case as well, such as:
- Completing a substance abuse assessment and the recommended treatment
- Besides driving under the influence, the driver’s behavior was safe and lawful
- Besides driving under the influence, the driver has a safe driving record
The judge will weigh all factors – aggravating, grossly aggravating, and mitigating – and sentence you accordingly. Mitigating factors can usually work in your favor by potentially reducing your punishment. However, they will not lessen your sentence if a grossly aggravating factor is present.
In Some Cases, Your Automobile Can Be Seized Upon A DWI Arrest
North Carolina law allows the state to take your vehicle if you are arrested for a DWI. But this can only occur in certain limited circumstances. A police officer can seize your automobile if you are charged with DWI and, at the time of your arrest:
- Your license is revoked because of a prior DWI conviction
- You are not validly licensed and are not insured by an automobile liability policy
Losing a vehicle can be a substantial deprivation of your property rights. Having a criminal defense attorney, however, can help you. Even if the state seizes your car, you (or the owner of the car) still have a property interest in the automobile. Sometimes law enforcement mistakenly seizes the wrong car after someone is arrested for a DWI. In cases like these, vehicles have been returned, and DWI charges have even been dismissed.
Your May Qualify As Habitually Impaired
You may be charged as a habitual DWI offender if you have had three prior DWI convictions within the past 10 years. If you are convicted of DWI for a fourth time, you will be sentenced to at least one year in jail. This is a felony and will result in other punishments as well.
Contact Our Carteret County Multiple DWI Attorney
An experienced DWI defense attorney can put forth several potential defenses against your charge. Here at The Hancock Law Firm, we will thoroughly examine all facts in your case and exhaust all options. Depending on your case, we may be able to challenge the legality of the police stop or whether there was probable cause for an arrest. Perhaps the breathalyzer test was not properly calibrated or maintained, or the procedures used to draw your blood were suspect. You deserve a zealous criminal defense lawyer who will challenge the state’s evidence.
Being charged multiple DWIs is not the end of your case. The government has to prove its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. If you’re facing a DWI charge, don’t lose hope. Contact the dedicated team at The Hancock Law Firm today.