DWI Charges North Carliona
Know your Options DWI Charge in NC
David Hands, Managing Attorney
Today, I want to focus on a Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge in North Carolina, specifically as it relates to non-commercial vehicles.  Some states have two classifications relating to driving impaired- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In North Carolina, there is only a DWI (Driving While Impaired) classification.  DWI’s are a Class A1 misdemeanor with 6 levels of punishment, with Level 5 being the least severe and Aggravated 1 being the most.  The sentencing level is determined by the judge based on factors including, but not limited to, prior DWI’s, whether or not your license was revoked for DWI, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), whether you obtained a substance abuse assessment prior to court, if a child under 18 was in the car, and your driving record. In North Carolina, if you are suspected of driving while impaired and you refuse to take a sobriety test your license is automatically confiscated for one year. In North Carolina, if you are convicted of DWI the state has a look back period of your driving record for 7 years and the conviction is reported to the DMV.  It is then that the DMV will move forward in suspending your license.  But perhaps the most important impact to consider is that a DWI conviction stays on your criminal record for life. There are states that may allow you to have a DWI expunged from your record, but in North Carolina you cannot get an expunction.  So as one can see, a DWI is a life-changing event on many different levels. In general, an attorney looks at all of the possible legal consequences for each client and determines how to minimize the damage to their lives and livelihoods, whether by plea or trial. While not perfect, a lawyer assesses a client’s individual situation and determines what level of punishment is likely under the circumstances. In Mecklenburg County, defendants charged with DWI have a first appearance date in courtroom 1130. If an attorney is hired, they will typically go and set a new court date for plea or trial. As your attorney, I will typically have met with you prior to the first appearance and discussed the merits of your case, requested video evidence to review, and received a copy, either from you or a third party company, of your driving record.  I will also request that you complete an alcohol assessment and you consider possible locations for community service to be done in an effort to mitigate the punishment.
If you are convicted of DWI, either by plea or trial, I will address the Court and explain the various mitigating factors which work in your favor. The Judge can use these to determine the sentencing level of the Defendant, as long as there are no Grossly Aggravating Factors.  Mitigating Factors include having a safe driving record for the past 5 years (meaning no driving offenses that resulted in at least four points being assigned), voluntary submission to a DWI-alcohol assessment and agreement to participate in any recommended treatment. Limited driving privileges may also be an option, depending upon how severe the sentence is. I will discuss the Habitual DWI in more detail in another post, but I will simply say now that this offense occurs whenever a driver has three or more DWI offenses in a given 10 year period.  The Habitual Driving Offense, or the Habitual DWI, is a Class F felony punishable by no less than 1 year imprisonment. Obviously, it goes without saying that no one should drive while they are impaired. At the very least, I hope this article increases understanding of exactly what all is at stake legally if you or someone you know is ever charged with a DWI. 

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Know your options on DWI charge in NC
Article Name
Know your options on DWI charge in NC
A summary of your legal options when charged with a DUI in North Carolina.
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Hands Law PLLC
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