Aggravating & Mitigating Factors in a North Carolina DWI

If you have been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, a conviction will result in serious penalties such as jail time, a suspended driver’s license, fines, and a criminal record. However, if there are certain aggravating factors which can increase the severity of the consequences. Additionally, there are also mitigating factors available that could counter any aggravating factors.

The following are grossly aggravating factors:

  • A prior DWI conviction within the past seven years of the current offense
  • A DWI conviction which occurred after the current offense, but before sentencing
  • A previous DWI conviction—which took place in district court—was appealed in superior court, but was withdrawn or remanded back to district court, and there still needs to be a new sentencing hearing
  • Getting arrested for a DWI while driving on a suspended license for a prior DWI offense
  • Being involved in a car accident that resulted in a serious injury while drunk driving
  • Drunk driving with a minor child under 18 years of age in the vehicle

Here are the aggravating factors to a North Carolina DWI:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 percent or gross impairment of the driver’s faculties
  • Driving dangerously or recklessly
  • Negligent driving which led to an accident
  • Driving with a revoked license (non-DWI related)
  • Driving at least 30 mph over the posted speed limit
  • Driving by a stopped school bus
  • Speeding while fleeing or attempting to avoid arrest
  • Two or more prior convictions for a traffic violation (non-DWI related) which cost three points
  • One or more prior DWI conviction which happened more than seven years before the current offense

Mitigating factors include:

  • Slight impairment of the driver’s faculties due to alcohol consumption and having a BAC of .09 after driving
  • Slight impairment of the driver’s faculties due to alcohol consumption without a chemical analysis
  • Besides driving under the influence, the driver was following the law and driving safely
  • Besides driving under the influence, the driver has a safe driving record or hasn’t been convicted of an offense worth at least four points
  • Driving under the influence of a prescribed medication, according to the right dosage
  • Voluntarily submitting into a mental health facility for assessment after a DWI charge
  • Completing a substance abuse evaluation, complying with recommendations, and abstaining from alcohol for 60 days according to the continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) system

If a person has three or more grossly aggravating factors, it is considered an aggravated level one sentence (which is the harshest). Penalties include a maximum 36-month jail sentence—with a minimum term of 12 months—and a fine of up to $10,000.

If a person had a minor child in the vehicle when the DWI was committed or there are two grossly aggravating factors present, it is a level one sentence. Penalties include a maximum 24-month jail sentence—with a minimum term of 30 days—and a fine of up to $4,000.

If a person committed only one grossly aggravator factor, it is a level two sentence. Penalties include a maximum 12-month jail sentence—with a minimum term of seven days—and a fine no larger than $2,000.

If a person’s aggravating factors exceed any mitigating factors and no grossly aggravating factors were committed, it is a level three sentence. Penalties include a maximum six-month jail sentence—with a minimum term of 72 hours—and a fine no more than $1,000.

If a person’s aggravating factors equal any mitigating factors without any grossly aggravating factors, it is a level four sentence. Penalties include a maximum 120-day jail sentence—with a minimum term of 48 hours—and a fine of up to $500.

If a person’s mitigating factors exceed any aggravating factors, it is a level five sentence. Penalties include a maximum 120-day jail sentence—with a minimum term of 24 hours—and a fine of up to $200.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, contact our Raleigh criminal defense attorneys at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh and request a free consultation today.

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