Many people have heard of habitual DWI / habitual DUI (also called “habitual impaired driving”). This is a crime distinct from the standard misdemeanor DWI charge in NC. Habitual DWI is the charge that accompanies a person’s fourth DWI in a ten-year span. This blog explores habitual impaired driving in North Carolina.
What is habitual DWI / habitual DUI?
A person is charged with habitual DWI on their fourth DWI, after they have had three prior DWI convictions in the preceding ten years. This means that on the fourth DWI, a person is oftentimes charged with this more serious DWI charge. Habitual DWI is very serious. While a standard DWI is a misdemeanor in NC, habitual DWI is a Class F felony in North Carolina.
What does it take to be convicted of Habitual DWI / Habitual DUI?
The State must prove four things to win its case. It must prove: 1) that the person was driving, 2) while impaired, 3) on a public highway, and 4) that the person has been convicted of three separate DWIs in the ten years preceding this DWI charge.
What is the punishment for Habitual DWI / Habitual DUI?
The punishment for habitual DWI is a one-year minimum term of imprisonment. In addition, the person will have their license permanently revoked. There is also a hefty fine that will be associated with the conviction.
What happens to the car?
A person convicted of habitual DWI will have their car seized by the State. The car becomes property subject to forfeiture. There are some safeguards in place for innocent third parties who own the car (if they are not the one convicted of habitual DWI) and did not know that the car was being used to facilitate the crime of drunk driving.
Can you get a limited driving privilege if your license has been permanently suspended for habitual impaired driving?
No, but you may be eligible to drive again after ten years have passed since your last DWI conviction. Check out our blog on the topic here.
If you have been charged with DWI or Habitual DWI / Habitual DUI, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.