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DWI Penalties in Greensboro — What You Need to Know

Attorneys with the resources to put you in the best position

A conviction for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs threatens you on several fronts. The Clifford Division of Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP puts the full force of its more than five decades of combined experience to work to protect you from each threat.

If you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, you face:

  • Considerable jail time
  • Fines
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Future monitoring of your alcohol consumption
  • Ignition interlock (breath test before your car will start)

Most drunk driving charges filed in the state are misdemeanors. If you are a habitual offender, you could be charged with a felony DWI, which carries its own, more severe penalties.

An indirect punishment of any impaired driving conviction is the almost-certain increase in your auto insurance rates.

District Court or Superior Court

The sentencing scheme is continually revised and becomes increasingly complex. Punishment for DWI misdemeanors is different from that for other misdemeanor crimes in North Carolina.

If you face a felony impaired-driving charge or are charged simultaneously with a felony, your case will be heard in Superior Court; otherwise a District Court judge will hear your misdemeanor DWI.

If you are convicted, the judge must consider the aggravating and mitigating factors that determine your sentence. The judge must first consider whether there are any grossly aggravating factors:

  • Prior conviction for DWI
  • Driving while your license is revoked for DWI
  • Causing serious injury to another person by your impaired driving
  • Driving impaired with a child under age 18 or a person with mental or physical disabilities

If three or more of these factors apply, the judge must impose the Aggravated Level One punishment (see below). If only two aggravating factors apply, or if you were driving with a child, the judge must impose the Level One punishment. If only one factor applies  other than the driving with a child a Level Two punishment is required.

Aggravating and mitigating factors

After assessing the grossly aggravating factors, the judge, or a jury if in Superior Court, must consider other aggravating factors, including:

  • Gross impairment of your faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident
  • Driving while your driver's license was revoked
  • Two or more specific prior traffic violation convictions
  • Conviction for speeding while fleeing police
  • Conviction for speeding by more than 30 mph over the limit
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense

The judge also must consider any mitigating factors, including:

  • Slight impairment of your faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09
  • Slight impairment when no chemical analysis was available
  • Driving at the time of the offense that was safe and lawful except for the impairment
  • A safe driving record
  • Impairment caused primarily by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition and the amount of drug taken was within the prescribed dosage
  • Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and treatment
  • Completion of a substance abuse assessment, compliance with its recommendations and 60 days of continuous abstinence from alcohol consumption, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) system
  • Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense

Punishment for misdemeanor DWI

North Carolina law provides six levels of punishment for impaired driving:

  • Aggravated Level One minimum sentence of one year in jail, up to three years, and up to a $10,000 fine
  • Level One minimum 30 days in jail, up to two years, and up to a $4,000 fine
  • Level Two minimum of seven days in jail, up to one year, and up to a $2,000 fine
  • Level Three at least 72 hours in jail, up to six months, and up to a $1,000 fine
  • Level Four at least 48 hours in jail, up to 120 days, and up to a $500 fine
  • Level Five minimum of 24 hours in jail, up to 60 days, and up to a $200 fine

For Levels Three through Five, the judge can order a suspended sentence requiring a short jail stay or community service. The judge also can order a sentence to be served on weekends.

How our attorneys help

Clearly, the judge has a lot to consider. In some instances, a sentence is mandatory, but the judge can weigh the seriousness of the aggravating and mitigating factors and sentence you accordingly. This is where a skilled attorney can help. The Clifford Division presents a clear picture of the facts and circumstances, from the initial traffic stop through the field sobriety tests and your arrest, so that you receive a fair sentence.

Greensboro attorneys argue for reduced sentences

The Clifford Division has handled thousands of DWI cases. Let us put that experience to work for you. If you have questions about your DWI charge or potential sentence, contact us today at 336-574-2788 or online for a free consultation.

Cases We Handle

We Handle:

  • Criminal cases in North Carolina District Court and Superior Court in Guilford County, including Greensboro and High Point
  • 50B and 50C protection order cases in both North Carolina District Courts in Guilford County, including Greensboro and High Point
  • Federal criminal cases
    • Misdemeanors in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and sometimes Statesville and Durham
    • Felonies in all four cities and on a case-by-case basis in any federal court in the United States
  • Federal civil forfeiture cases, post-conviction work and investigations
    on an individual basis
  • Private prosecutions in state court on a case-by-case basis

Awards & Affiliations

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