Will You Get Jail Time If You Are Convicted of DWI?
How a DWI Can Result in Jail Time
Whether folks call it DWI, DUI or Driving While Impaired, one of the biggest questions on the mind on anyone facing the charge is will I end up behind bars if I am convicted or if I plead guilty. As with most things in criminal law the answer is, “It all depends.”
Before we go any further, we would like to alleviate as much stress for as many people as we can. So to give some of you a quick answer to an otherwise complex question; if you were alone in the car, have never pleaded guilty to or been convicted of DWI, and nobody was seriously injured as a result of an accident from this incident, it is highly unlikely that you will get any jail time at all. Now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about those situations where jail time might be imposed.
The following information comes with a caveat; it only applies to DWIs that occurred after December 1 of 2011.
First, did you have a passenger in the car who was under 18 years old at the time that you were stopped? How about somebody who simply had the mental development of a child under the age of 18, or a passenger who had some sort of physical disability that prevented them from exiting the vehicle without assistance? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, for this reason alone the court is required to impose no less than 30 days of jail time. This is the result of fairly recent law known as Laura’s Law. Remember, the rule is that a judge can impose no less than thirty days; there is nothing to say that they could not impose more jail time if they wanted to do so. There is one potential alternative to jail time under these circumstances, which is addressed further below.
Other factors that will directly impact whether or not you will get jail time, as well as how much jail time you will get, include:
- Prior convictions for DWI within the past seven years
- Having more than one pending DWI at the same time
- Having a license that is revoked due to a prior impaired driving offense
- Having caused a serious personal injury as a result of this incident
The more of these factors that you have, the more time you are likely to receive.
Obviously we haven’t gone into great detail as to exactly how much time you can get under different circumstances but suffice it to say that the worst category of DWI, short of felony habitual DWI, is considered an aggravated level I. The maximum jail time that a judge can impose for an aggravated level I DWI is 36 months in prison. For further information, feel free to read through our page on DWI sentencing.
Earlier, we alluded to the fact that there is one potential alternative to jail time under circumstances where jail is otherwise mandatory. That alternative is inpatient alcohol treatment. The period of time can be no less than the minimum amount of jail time to which a judge could sentence you, but some judges require two days of inpatient treatment for everyone day of jail that they would usually have to impose. Judges do not have to accept inpatient treatment instead of jail time and some of them do not as a general rule. Many consider it on a case-by-case basis.
Finally when it comes to the actual service of jail time, should you actually have to serve jail time, under some circumstances it can be agreed upon that this time can be served on weekends under the supervision of a probation officer or at other times when jail will not interfere with work or school. This often means that people can keep their jobs as they don’t have to miss work. Nobody wants to go to jail, but it is important to note that the impact can often be reduced.
Our DWI lawyers help people throughout Wake County, North Carolina. We often handle offenses arising out of the following cities: Garner, New Hope, Zebulon, Raleigh, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina, Wendell, Apex, Cary and Holly Springs.