Understanding North Carolina’s strict DWI penalties

North Carolina is known across the country as one of the strictest enforcers of DWI penalties. The reason behind this is the sliding penalty scale that has been implemented, which creates a series of levels to determine punishments for intoxicated drivers.

The higher up the scale, the harsher the consequences of a conviction. But what do the penalties of this sliding scale look like?

Level V – The lowest level, in which a driver can be fined up to $200 and given a jail sentence between 24 hours and 60 days. The jail time can be suspended, but in its place the driver must perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.

Level IV Penalties include a jail sentence between 48 hours and 120 days. Like at Level V, the judge can suspend the jail sentence if the driver performs 48 hours of community service or doesn’t operate a vehicle for 60 days. Fines can be up to $500.

Level III  Fines can go up to $1,000, with a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum up to six months. If the driver performs 72 hours of community service or does not operate a vehicle for 90 days, the jail sentence can be suspended.

Level II  Includes a jail sentence from seven days up to a year. A judge cannot suspend the minimum jail sentence for this level. Fines can be up to $2,000.

Level I Fines up to $4,000. Jail sentence goes from 30 days to two years. As with the previous level, a judge cannot suspend this minimum jail sentence.

Levels I & II only apply to repeat-offender drivers, those with small children in the car or impaired drivers who hurt someone in a crash.

North Carolina is harsh on DWI offenses, which makes it even more important to understand the consequences that a conviction can bring. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, a criminal law attorney can help review your options.

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