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The Experienced DWI Defense Lawyers of Kurtz & Blum Discuss the Details of DWI Sentencing

What Are the Consequences of a DWI Conviction in NC?

DWI Lawyers Understand Sentencing Issues

In North Carolina, if you are convicted of DWI, you must then take part in a DWI sentencing hearing.  During this hearing, the judge hears aggravating and grossly aggravating factors presented by the District Attorney and mitigating factors presented by the Defense Attorney.  Depending on the determination of aggravating, grossly aggravating, and mitigating factors, as found by the judge during a sentencing hearing, a defendant must be sentenced as follows:

Level 5

Level 5 is the least severe DWI sentence.  You will be sentenced as a Level 5 if your attorney can show that the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors.  It carries a penalty of:

  • A minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days in jail
  • A maximum fine of $200.00

If placed on probation, you could receive the following probation conditions:

  • 24 hours of community service
  • 24 hours in jail
  • Obtain a substance abuse assessment and complete the recommended treatment

Level 4

You will be sentenced as a Level 4 if the mitigating factors are equal to the aggravating factors.  The penalty for a Level 4 is:

  • Maximum of 120 days in jail
  • Maximum fine of $500.00

If placed on probation, you could receive the following probation conditions:

  • 48 hours in jail
  • 48 hours of community service
  • Obtain a substance abuse assessment and complete the recommended treatment

Level 3

You will be sentenced as a Level 3 if the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors.  The penalty for a Level 3 is:

  • Maximum of 180 days in jail
  • Maximum fine of $1,000.00

If placed on probation, you could receive the following probation conditions:

  • 72 hours in jail
  • 72 hours of community service
  • Obtain a substance abuse assessment and complete the recommended treatment

Level 2

You will be sentenced as a Level 2 if the judge finds one grossly aggravating factor.  The penalty for a Level 2 is:

  • Maximum of one year in prison
  • Minimum of seven days in prison (however a judge is permitted to accept inpatient alcohol treatment in lieu of jail time)
  • Maximum fine of $2,000.00

Level 1

You will be sentenced as a Level 1 if the judge finds two grossly aggravating factors.  The penalty for a Level 1 is:

  • Maximum of two years in prison
  • Minimum of thirty days in prison  (again, the judge can substitute inpatient alcohol treatment instead of jail time)
  • Maximum fine of $4,000.00

Effective in cases charged on or after December 1, 2011, it is possible to be sentenced as a Level 1 when only one grossly aggravating factor is present if it is the following is true:

  • a child under the age of eighteen is in the car with you;
  • a person with the mental development of a child under the age of eighteen is in the car with you; or
  • a person with a physical disability that prevents the person from getting out of the vehicle without assistance is in the car with you.

Level A1

Effective in cases charged on or after December 1, 2011, drivers convicted of DWI will be sentenced as Level A1 if there are three or more grossly aggravating factors present in their case.  The sentence for a Level A1 DWI is as follows:

  • a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months in prison
  • a maximum fine of $10,000.00

The above sentencing guidelines are designed to limit a judge’s discretion but it should be plain to see that there is a great deal of flexibility afforded the judge.  What’s more, the court has tremendous latitude when it comes to determining the level of DWI to which a defendant is sentenced if that defendant is sentenced between levels three through five. 

Savvy DWI Defense Lawyers of Kurtz & BlumAt Kurtz & Blum, we understand that effectively representing a client at a DWI sentencing hearing requires an attorney who not only comprehends the ins and outs of the sentencing guidelines, but also understands how the prosecutor in the courtroom and the judge on the bench interpret and implement those guidelines.  Without a thorough understanding of all of these components, a simple DWI, where you might expect a mere 24 hours of community service, can turn into something far worse.

Our DWI lawyers help people throughout Wake County, North Carolina.  We frequently handle offenses arising out of the following cities: Apex, Garner, Wendell, Knightdale, Holly Springs, Cary, Zebulon, Rolesville, Raleigh, Wake Forest, New Hope, Morrisville and Fuquay-Varina.