Driving While Impaired (“DWI”)

In North Carolina, a Driving While Impaired (“DWI”) offense requires that a person be driving a vehicle on a highway, street, or public vehicular area, while under the influence of an impairing substance or with an alcohol to blood concentration of 0.08% or more at any relevant time after driving.

A DWI citation will result in an initial 30-day civil revocation of all driving privileges, which typically begins on the day of the arrest. After 10 days, however, one may be eligible for a limited driving privilege, although this is not a guaranteed right and only applies in certain circumstances. Often, this is only for specific destinations during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and for the purposes of:

  1. Employment;
  2. Maintenance of household;
  3. Education;
  4. Court-ordered treatment or assessment for drugs and alcohol;
  5. Mandated community service; or
  6. Emergency care.

The District Attorney is required to prove each element of a DWI to support a conviction. He or she must be held to that burden and ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. There are several defenses that must be considered in a DWI case.

A DWI offense can carry severe penalties if convicted. This is something that someone should not face alone. DWIs carry a mandatory sentence of license suspension for a period of one year, as well as court costs and fines. Additionally, a court can mandate community service, supervised probation, and even jail time. This conviction also carries 12 insurance points, which corresponds to almost a 400% surcharge to your North Carolina insurance.

For sentencing purposes, a North Carolina judge determines whether there are any grossly aggravating, aggravating, or mitigating factors present in each case.

Grossly aggravating factors to be considered include:

  1. A prior DWI conviction within seven years of the date of the offense for which the person is currently being sentenced;
  2. A DWI conviction that occurs after the date of the offense for which the person is currently being sentenced, but prior to or contemporaneously with the present sentencing;
  3. Driving by the person while his or her license was revoked and the revocation was a result of an impaired driving revocation;
  4. Serious injury to another person as a result of the person’s driving at the time of the DWI offense; or
  5. Driving by the person while a child under the age of 16 was in the vehicle.

Aggravating factors to be considered include:

  1. Gross impairment of the driver or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more within a relevant time after driving;
  2. Reckless or dangerous driving;
  3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident;
  4. Driving while the 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 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. A conviction of speeding by the driver while fleeing or attempting to elude apprehension;
  7. A conviction of speeding by the driver of at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit;
  8. Passing a stopped school bus; or
  9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

Mitigating factors to be considered include:

  1. Slight impairment of the driver’s faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving;
  2. Slight impairment of the driver’s faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, with no chemical analysis having been available to the driver;
  3. Driving at the time of the offense that was safe and lawful except for the impairment of the driver’s faculties;
  4. A safe driving record;
  5. Impairment of the driver’s faculties caused primarily by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was within the prescribed dosage;
  6. The driver’s voluntary submission to a mental health facility for assessment after he or she was charged with the impaired driving offense for which he or she is being sentenced, and, if recommended by the facility, his or her voluntary participation in the recommended treatment; or
  7. Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

If convicted of a DWI, one may petition for a limited driving privilege if:

  1. He or she was validly licensed at the time of the DWI offense, or had a license that had been expired for less than a year;
  2. This was a first time offense with no other pending DWI charges;
  3. He or she was sentenced to a level three, four, or five for North Carolina sentencing purposes;
  4. He or she has completed a substance abuse assessment and filed it with the court; and
  5. He or she has proof of liability insurance.

Call Rech Law, P.C. today to come in for a free DWI consultation.

Common Questions We Can Discuss Include:

  • My license was suspended for 30 days, is there anything I can do to get it back during this time?
  • What will happen to my license?
  • Should I have submitted to the Intoxilyzer?
  • Should I have made statements to the police officer?
  • Can I face jail time?
  • If I blew under .08, will my case just be dismissed?
  • What kind of defenses may be available to me?
  • If I am convicted, what is going to happen to my insurance?