The consequences of a conviction for driving while under the influence (DWI) can be life-changing. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor DWI offense in North Carolina, you will face statutory and collateral consequences that affect your professional and personal life. Don’t assume that just because you’re facing a misdemeanor DWI charge, you won’t face any serious consequences.
Discuss Your Case With a North Carolina DWI Attorney Today
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor DWI in North Carolina? If so, call Hancock Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible. Attorney Joel Hancock devotes 100 percent of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWIs, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, North Carolina. After carefully reviewing the facts in your case, he will develop an effective legal strategy to fight the misdemeanor DWI charges.
The Benefits of Working With a Skilled DWI Misdemeanor Attorney
North Carolina DWI laws are complicated. Trying to navigate facing DWI charges alone can hurt your chances of a dismissal or a favorable plea deal. Attorney Joel Hancock has an in-depth understanding of North Carolina DWI laws. He will carefully examine the facts in your case and make compelling arguments on your behalf. He will attempt to have the court charge you with the lowest level of DWI charge possible and, when possible, ask the court to dismiss the charges against you. You can rest assured that he will fight for the best possible outcome in your DWI misdemeanor case.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor DWI in North Carolina
If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you may be wondering whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges. In most cases, DWI charges are not felony charges in North Carolina, but there are some exceptions. Under North Carolina law, there are criminal charges associated with a DWI that can result in a defendant facing separate, additional felony charges. However, most DWI charges fall within the traditional definition of a misdemeanor.
Traditionally, misdemeanors are crimes that carry less than a year of jail time for those convicted. Felonies, on the other hand, are crimes that carry a prison sentence of a year or more. Defendants convicted of a felony can also experience other consequences, such as losing the ability to vote and possess a firearm.
The Penalties for Misdemeanor DWI in North Carolina
DWI cases in North Carolina can quickly become complicated and require an in-depth legal analysis. There are also cases in which multiple convictions of impaired driving results in a felony conviction, as is the case with the crime of habitually driving while impaired. In North Carolina, most misdemeanors crimes carry a penalty of up to 150 days in jail. However, driving while impaired is a crime that has its own special sentencing rules.
In North Carolina, most DWI charges are considered class 1 misdemeanors, but the sentencing process is complicated. If you’re convicted of a DWI, you can be sentenced to up to three years in jail and assess a fine of up to $10,000. Typically, if you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you will only face a maximum jail sentence of 150 days and a fine of up to $1,000. Unlike other misdemeanor crimes, judges will only consider certain prior convictions when sentencing a defendant for a DWI, such as other DWI convictions and specific moving vehicle violations. The standard criminal history formula used in other misdemeanors doesn’t apply.
Determining a Sentence for Misdemeanor DWIs in North Carolina
As you can see, North Carolina treats DWI misdemeanors more seriously than other types of misdemeanors and punishes them accordingly. The process of determining a sentence for a misdemeanor DUI is to determine what level of DWI applies in a particular case. There are six different levels of DWI in North Carolina. An aggravated Level 1 DWI is the most serious, and Level 5 is the lowest level DWI conviction. When deciding which level to charge a defendant, courts will perform a balancing test between grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors.
For example, a level 5 DWI charge is one in which the mitigating factors substantially outweigh the aggravating factors. In a level for DWI, the court considers the mitigating factors and aggravating factors equal. In a level DWI the aggravating factors substantially outweighed the mitigating factors. Level 1 DWI charges include two grossly aggravating factors. Finally, in an aggravated level 1 DWI, three or more grossly aggravating factors are present.
Factors That Determine Sentencing in DWI Misdemeanor Offenses
As mentioned above, if you’ve been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, the court will consider multiple factors to assign a level to your DWI charge. Grossly aggravating factors are factors that increase the level of the penalty. For example, if you have a DWI conviction within seven years before the current DWI charge, or you’ve been charged with another DWI since you’ve been arrested, you will have a grossly aggravating factor. Likewise, if you cause serious injury to another person or were driving with a child under age 16, you will have a grossly aggravating factor.
Aggravating factors include driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more, reckless or dangerous driving, or having a previous conviction for speeding. Mitigating factors will help a defendant be assigned a lower-level DWI charge with a less serious penalty. Mitigating factors include having only a slight impairment that doesn’t exceed .09 percent BAC. Having a safe driving record, driving safely at the time of the DWI, and voluntarily submitting to a mental health facility for an assessment are all mitigating factors that can help you lower the consequences of a potential DWI conviction.
Contact a North Carolina DWI Attorney As Soon As Possible
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor DWI is to try to talk their way out of it without the help of an attorney. Instead, you should exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC. Attorney Joel Hancock has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in misdemeanor DWI cases. Contact him today to learn more about how he can fight to protect your rights.