Penalties & DWI Sentencing NC

If you have been charged with a DWI or related offense, contact a Raleigh, NC DWI defense attorney at Coolidge Law Firm. A DWI charge may be the single most important legal matter that you ever face. The attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm know how to defend your rights and get the results that you need when facing a serious charge like DWI. DWI charges carry severe penalties so you need to act immediately. We can start building your defense strategy right away.

Coolidge Law Firm represents clients throughout Wake County, including in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Garner, Wendell, Wake Forest, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, and Zebulon. Call to schedule a free case evaluation.

DWI Defense Attorney in Raleigh

North Carolina takes driving while impaired charges seriously, and the offense carries steep consequences. The stigma of a conviction could affect your personal relationships and professional life, in addition to criminal penalties.

DWI convictions often result in life-changing consequences including prison, steep fines, probation, loss of license, community service, and alcohol monitoring. As the accused, you should know your rights, not only during a trial but also at a DWI sentencing hearing if found guilty. We understand the components of DWI sentencing, and we know the prosecutors and judges and can best help you receive the best outcome possible.

(919) 239-8448

Information About DWI Sentencing

Back to top

Sentencing Hearing for DWI in North Carolina

After a DWI conviction in North Carolina, a judge will hold a sentencing hearing to determine whether aggravating or mitigating factors exist that should be considered before sentencing. Such factors may affect the sentence imposed. After hearing these aggravating and mitigating factors, the judge weighs the factors and decides on the appropriate sentencing level.

Grossly aggravating factors include:

  • Prior North Carolina DWI convictions within seven years of the offense for which the person is being sentenced
  • Driving with a minor, a person with the mental development of a child under age 18, or a person with a physical disability that prevented their unaided exit from the vehicle
  • Driving by the defendant at the time of the offense while his or her driver’s license was revoked for impaired driving.
  • The impaired driving caused serious injury to another person

Possible aggravating factors include:

  • Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more while driving or within a relevant time after driving
  • Reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident
  • Driving while your license was revoked for reasons other than a DWI offense
  • A prior conviction for speeding while fleeing or attempting to elude apprehension
  • A prior conviction for speeding by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit

Mitigating factors include:

  • Slight impairment solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving
  • Slight impairment solely from alcohol with no chemical analysis having been available
  • Driving at the time of the offense was safe and lawful except for the impairment
  • A safe driving record
  • Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was the prescribed dosage
  • Voluntary submission to a mental health facility for assessment and if recommended, participation in the recommended treatment.

Mitigating factors can help to effectively reduce the sentencing level of a DWI conviction. A criminal defense attorney can represent you during the hearing and help present these factors. The court can use the information when deciding on the terms and conditions of your sentence.

Back to top

In Wake County and surrounding areas in North Carolina, Judges determine the appropriate sentencing level after carefully weighing the grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors in a particular case.  Judges then also determine the appropriate DWI sentencing levels given the assigned punishment factors.  In North Carolina, all DWI convictions are sentenced according to the following levels:

DWI Sentencing Levels And Their Punishment

Aggravated Level One Punishment is one of the most severe punishments for DWI offenses in North Carolina. It can be applied when three or more grossly aggravating factors are present. It can result in a minimum of 12 months in jail and a maximum of 36 months, with no eligibility for parole. A fine of up to $10,000 also could be imposed.

Level One Punishment under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-179 could be imposed if a driver has two grossly aggravating factors when arrested for a DWI. It could result in between 30 days and two years in prison and a fine of up to $4,000. Probation also could be imposed, which could include the requirement of a substance abuse assessment and related treatment or education, plus abstaining from alcohol.

Level Two Punishment may be applied if the driver has only one grossly aggravating factor. The penalties include between seven days and 12 months in jail, in addition to a fine up to $2,000. Probation also could be imposed with restrictions similar to a level one punishment.

Level Three Punishment can be applied if no grossly aggravating factors are present and aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors. Punishments include a minimum of 72 hours in jail or 72 hours of community service and a maximum of six months and a fine of up to $1,000.

Level Four Punishment could apply if no aggravating or mitigating factors are present or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by any mitigating factors. Penalties include a minimum of 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service and a maximum of 120 days, plus a fine of up to $500.

Level Five Punishment would include a minimum of 24 hours in jail or 24 hours of community service and a maximum of 120 days, plus a fine of up to $200. The punishment of this level could be applied if there are no aggravating or mitigating factors or mitigating factors substantially outweigh any aggravating factors.

IS DWI In NC A Felony?

Penalties can vary for the offense if the driver has three or more DWI convictions within the 10 years prior to the current offense. The crime could be considered a felony, which could carry at least one year in prison.

In addition to the criminal penalties listed above, it is important to know an arrest for a North Carolina impaired driving offense could lead to your driver’s license being administratively revoked for at least 30 days. If you are convicted of the offense, you could lose driving privileges for even longer.


Back to top

Speak to a DWI Defense Lawyer in Raleigh Today!

If you have been arrested for a DWI contact a DWI defense attorney at Coolidge Law Firm. Seek experienced counsel to get the best possible results in your drunk driving case. Call (919) 239-8448 or fill out the contact form below for a free case evaluation.

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