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DUI Arrest for North Carolina Man in Adams County Crash

November 22, 2013 - Driving under the influence has been blamed on a North Carolina man charged in connection with an early morning crash in Adams County, Illinois. (MORE)

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North Carolina DUI Laws

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North Carolina DWI cases are complicated and can have serious consequences. If you are convicted you will probably lose your driving privileges and pay heavy fines, and you may go to jail. Your car insurance premiums will be substantially higher — you may even be denied coverage altogether. Educational and employment prospects might suffer with a criminal record. If you are arrested for DWI in North Carolina, you are strongly encouraged to ask for advice and representation from a qualified North Carolina DWI lawyer. A strategic defense can make all the difference in avoiding harsh consequences — or even obtaining a dismissal of your case.

If you are convicted of DWI, the court will weigh the mitigating (e.g., safe driving record), aggravating (e.g., speeding 30 MPH over the limit) and grossly aggravating factors (e.g., driving while your license was revoked for a prior DWI) to determine your sentencing "level." In the absence of aggravating factors, a first-time offender will likely be Level Five, which is the least serious. Level Five typically involves a fine and community service (in lieu of jail). An offender with aggravating and grossly aggravating factors may be Level One. A Level One sentence will include a mandatory period of incarceration. To learn more about DWI sentencing, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

In addition to your criminal case, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles may revoke your driving privileges. If this happens, you may be eligible for a restricted license so that you can go to work, school, treatment and other important places. Use of an ignition interlock device, especially with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level over .16 percent, may be required for restricted licenses and/or later to reinstate your license. You may wish to have a North Carolina DWI attorney assist you with these procedures.

North Carolina DUI/DWI Laws and Penalties

State and federal laws in the United States are constantly changing. The following guide is intended solely for informational purposes and should not take the place of the advice of a lawyer. Only a qualified attorney can assess the merits of your case completely and provide an effective plan for counsel.

Blood Alcohol Content/Concentration ("BAC")

North Carolina BAC laws may differ from those of other states, as follows.

North Carolina BAC Laws
Per Se Violation BAC of .08 or higher
"Zero Tolerance" (BAC for someone under 21) Higher than .00 Commercial Driver's License Holder* .04 or higher (while operating a commercial vehicle)
Implied Consent to Submit to a BAC Test
  • Yes, by getting a North Carolina driver's license, you give consent to submit to a BAC test (breath alcohol test or blood analysis)
  • Failure to submit to a BAC test will result in an immediate license suspension of at least 30 days

Administrative License Suspension

Suspension by DMV: immediately following arrest for DUI/DWI; independent of court conviction and suspensions following a court conviction.

Time to file for appeal: You may be able to request a hearing at the DMV to appeal your license suspension, but the time limit for doing so is usually very short (within seven to 15 days after DUI/DWI citation).

DUI/DWI Arrest
1st Offense 30-day license suspension
"Zero Tolerance" (BAC for Someone Under 21) 30-day suspension for BAC of .01 or higher
Administrative Hearing Yes
Limited Privileges Possible Yes
Refusal to Submit to BAC Test
1st Offense 30-day suspension followed by a minimum of 1 year suspension

Criminal Court Conviction - Mandatory Fines and Penalties

(Penalties imposed by the criminal court system)

First DUI/DWI Offense
License Suspension 1 year (may have conditional license)
Prison Term and Community Service 1 day to 2 years in jail; 1 day community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $200 to $4,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • Ignition interlock device for BAC of .15 or higher (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Substance abuse assessment and treatment
Second DUI/DWI Offense
License Suspension 4 years if within 3 years of first offense (may have conditional license if not within 7 years of first offense)
Prison Term and Community Service 7 days to 2 years in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $2,000 to $4,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • 3 years ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Substance abuse assessment and treatment
Third DUI/DWI Offense
License Suspension Permanent if within 5 years of last offense (may have conditional license)
Prison Term and Community Service 7 days to 2 years in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $2,000 to $4,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • 7 years ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Substance abuse assessment and treatment
Fourth DUI/DWI Offense
License Suspension Permanent (no conditional license for at least 10 years)
Prison Term and Community Service 1 year to 5 years in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $2,000 to $4,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • 7 years ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Substance abuse assessment and treatment

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors***

The above penalties can be significantly altered based on the existence of aggravating factors or mitigating factors. Sentencing guidelines in North Carolina are based on both the number of prior convictions and any aggravating or mitigating factors (identified below) that exist. The judge must base the sentencing on the presence of any of these factors.

Grossly Aggravating Factors: prior DUI/DWI conviction within seven years; DUI/DWI while license is suspended for a previous DUI/DWI; serious injury to another in the car; children under 16 in the car.

Aggravating Factors: BAC of .15 or higher, reckless driving, prior convictions, revoked license

Mitigating Factors: safe driving record; BAC of .09 or lower; presence of drugs; voluntary submission to treatment; unavailability of test with slight impairment.

Level 5 - Mitigating Factors Outweigh Aggravating Factors
Prison Term and Community Service 24 hours of jail and/or community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $200 or higher**
Level 4 - No Mitigating or Aggravating Factors
Prison Term and Community Service 48 hours of jail and/or community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $500 or higher**
Level 3 - Aggravating Factors Outweigh Mitigating Factors
Prison Term and Community Service 72 hours of jail and/or community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $500 or higher**
Level 2 - At least 1 Grossly Aggravating Factor
Prison Term and Community Service 7 days to 1 year in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $2,000 or higher**
Aggravated Level 1 - At least 3 Grossly Aggravating Facts
Prison Term and Community Service 12 to 36 months in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $10,000 or higher**
Level 1 - 2 or More Grossly Aggravating Facts
Prison Term and Community Service 30 days to 2 years in jail; no community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $4,000 or higher**

* Restrictions can be placed on a commercial driver's license for any DUI/DWI (even those received while driving non-commercial vehicles).
**Includes only fines, fees, and surcharges imposed by the court upon conviction; excludes court costs, attorneys' fees, mandatory treatment costs, bail, and increased insurance.
***A variety of factors in your specific DUI/DWI situation can increase your penalties beyond what is set out in law. This section lists some of these aggravating factors.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association, South Dakota Legislature, North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program

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