Raleigh DWI Aggravating Factors

A dedicated DWI defense lawyer from the Coolidge Law Firm will aggressively fight the prosecutor’s attempts to worsen your DWI sentence by challenging the factors he brings forward, as well as present any mitigating factors that may exist in your case.

If you were unrepresented or had poor representation during your District Court case, you have the right to appeal to Superior Court.  This appeal essentially wipes out the previous finding of guilt and allows you to have a new trial before a jury in Superior Court.  We can help you file this appeal and represent you in Superior Court.  But, you only have 10 days from the day the judge sentences you to appeal.  DO NOT WAIT.  Call us immediately for a free consultation.

We represent clients throughout Wake County, including Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Garner, Holly Springs, Wendell, Knightdale, and Fuquay-Varina. Call today for a free consultation.

Aggravating Factors in a DWI Case

A sentencing hearing follows a DWI conviction in North Carolina. At the hearing, the judge (or, in some cases, jury) will hear a variety of facts about the defendant and about the circumstances surrounding the incident leading to arrest. The district attorney may present grossly aggravating and aggravating factors particular to your case that would result in the judge ordering a harsher punishment.

The prosecutor must prove these factors exist beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant’s lawyer can challenge them.

(919) 239-8448

Overview of DWI Aggravating Factors

Back to top

List of Aggravating Factors

North Carolina General Statutes § 20-179 lists the aggravating factors that can cause a judge to sentence you at a harsher sentencing level requiring more severe punishment. The aggravating factors are:

  1. Gross impairment of the defendant’s faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more within a relevant time after the driving. For purposes of this subdivision, the results of a chemical analysis presented at trial or sentencing shall be sufficient to prove the person’s alcohol concentration, shall be conclusive, and shall not be subject to modification by any party, with or without approval by the court.
  2. Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
  3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident.
  4. Driving by the defendant while his driver’s license was revoked.
  5. Two or more prior convictions of a motor vehicle offense not involving impaired driving for which at least three points are assigned under G.S. 20‑16 or for which the convicted person’s license is subject to revocation, if the convictions occurred within five years of the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced, or one or more prior convictions of an offense involving impaired driving that occurred more than seven years before the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced.
  6. Conviction under G.S. 20-141.5 of speeding by the defendant while fleeing or attempting to elude apprehension.
  7. Conviction under G.S. 20-141 of speeding by the defendant by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit.
  8. Passing a stopped school bus in violation of G.S. 20-217.
  9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

NOTE: Except for the factor in (5), the conduct constituting the aggravating factor must have occurred during the same incident as the impaired driving offense.

Back to top

Grossly Aggravating Factors

The state may also offer grossly aggravating factors as defined by statute.  One grossly aggravating factor will result in a Level DWI judgment for a DWI conviction.   Having three or more grossly aggravating factors proven beyond a reasonable doubt can allow the judge to sentence a DWI conviction as an Aggravated Level 1, which requires a minimum prison term of one year. The grossly aggravating factors are:

  1. A prior conviction for an offense involving impaired driving if:
    1. The conviction occurred within seven years before the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced; or
    2. The conviction occurs after the date of the offense for which the defendant is presently being sentenced, but prior to or contemporaneously with the present sentencing; or
    3. The conviction occurred in district court; the case was appealed to superior court; the appeal has been withdrawn, or the case has been remanded back to district court; and a new sentencing hearing has not been held pursuant to G.S. 20-38.7.

    NOTE: Each prior conviction is a separate grossly aggravating factor.

  2. Driving by the defendant at the time of the offense while his or her driver’s license was revoked for impaired driving.
  3. Serious injury to another person caused by the defendant’s impaired driving at the time of the offense.
  4. Driving by the defendant while (i) a child under the age of 18 years, (ii) a person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years, or (iii) a person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

A DWI is at least a Level 1 offense if: a person in the vehicle was younger than 18, had a mental disability that causes the person to have the mental capacity of a person younger than 18, or had a physical disability that would have prevented the person from escaping the vehicle.

Back to top

Have a Complicated DWI Case in Raleigh? Contact Us Now!

If you are concerned about the circumstances surrounding your impaired-driving charge or you have just been found guilty in District Court and want to know about your right to appeal to Superior Court, contact a skilled DWI attorney at the Coolidge Law Firm by calling (919) 239-8448 or fill out the contact form below. We represent clients throughout Wake County, including Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Wake Forest, Garner, Apex, Holly Springs, Wendell, Knightdale and Fuquay-Varina.

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Client Testimonials

  • 5 stars
    I can not say enough good about David Coolidge and the Law Firm! From the moment of our 1st interaction, I could tell that David TRULY cares and has a passion about the cases he takes on. I was anxious and nervous about my case from the beginning. David immediately showed his support and listened with an empathetic ear. From that moment on, I felt as though I knew I could trust him to put his whole heart into helping me with my case. He is intelligent, kind and completely nonjudgmental. He will listen to you and is so very supportive. I really felt, and still do, that he really cared about helping me. His passion for his work and in helping others shines. We VERY HAPPILY, had a GREAT outcome from the case and I could not be happier. As I told him when we left the court room that morning... “David, you have changed my life forever”. I would recommend David and this Law Firm to EVERYONE who is reading this review.
    - Brian L.
  • 5 stars
    David Coolidge is a wonderful attorney! I hired him twice for two different cases that I had which were only 2 months apart. He's very thorough and efficient. I was even able to reach him after hours through phone calls, texts, and email. Hopefully I never need his services again but if I am in a similar predicament I would most definitely hire David again.
    - Tiffany C.
  • 5 stars
    Excellent Customer Service. I had a Speeding ticket and they resolved it positively with no points on my Driver License. They represented me in Court and by midday on the Court date, they had updated me on the outcome. Very efficient service. I highly recommend them if you are in need of Legal Services.
    - Stephen O.
  • 5 stars
    I got a speeding ticket for going 17 over. They sent me a letter in the mail explaining that I could plead improper equipment and get no points on my insurance or license. They even gave me the fees straight out on the letter including court costs. They represented me and made the ticket go away.
    - David G.
  • 5 stars
    I cannot say enough about Attorney Coolidge and his staff. He’s handed several matters for me and in every instance he has exceeded my expectations. He even answered a frantic call from me on a Saturday night. I called in desperation not really expecting an answer. Mr. Coolidge delivered on all that he promised and more. I highly recommend.
    - Craig S.
More Testimonials
(919) 239-8448
  1. Menu iconMenu
  2. practice iconPractices
  3. Call icon
  4. testimonialsReviews
  5. Contact usContact
Coolidge Law Firm