DWI Sentencing in North Carolina

by | Oct 18, 2017 | Blog Posts, DWI, NC Criminal Defense

DWI Sentencing in North Carolina

If your DWI case is such that you get to the sentencing phase, North Carolina judges are obligated to use structured sentencing that is unique to DWI. Under this sentencing, there are 5 punishment levels for most DWIs, and they are categorized from Aggravated Level 1 to Level 5. Level 1 considered the most severe, while Level 5 is considered the least severe.

Factors that determine DWI sentencing in North Carolina

With regard to DWI sentencing, a key consideration is the presence of grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors. The judge will look at all of these factors and determine the appropriate sentence.

These factors are presented to the court during the sentencing phase. This will occur after the DWI conviction or guilty plea.

Grossly Aggravating factors

Grossly Aggravating factors must be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt.

Examples of grossly aggravating factors:

  • A prior conviction of DWI
  • Driving while license revoked for an impaired revocation
  • Serious injury to another person caused by the defendant’s impaired driving
  • Driving with a child under 18 in the vehicle during the DWI

Aggravating factors

Aggravating factors must be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt.

Examples of aggravating factors:

  • A blood alcohol concentration of .15 or more
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that resulted in a reportable accident
  • Driving by the defendant while his or her license is revoked
  • Passing a stopped school bus

Mitigating Factors

Mitigating factors must be proven by the defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

Examples of mitigating factors:

  • Slight impairment of the defendant faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed .09 at any relevant time after the driving
  • Driving that was safe except for the defendant’s impairment
  • A safe driving record defined by North Carolina Statute
  • Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and to treatment
  • Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense

Analysis by the judge

During the DWI sentencing phase, the judge evaluates the balance of all of these factors and determines the appropriate sentence. The sentencing phase of DWI is something that is so important that it is best to seek representation from a DWI attorney to help you through the process. Call today to speak with a DWI attorney. 

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