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Woman charged with DUI and child endangerment after accident

DUI accident resulting in child endangerment charges.

North Carolina DUI Information

Drivers arrested in the State of North Carolina for driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol (DWI) will face severe DWI penalties including potential jail time, a driver’s license suspension, potential ignition interlock installation, and high fines.

North Carolina DWI defined

North Carolina drivers may be charged with impaired driving if they drive any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State (1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or (2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person's alcohol concentration; or (3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine. (North Carolina Statute § 20-138.1.  Impaired driving)

North Carolina Look Back or wash-out period: 7 years

If a driver’s second or third driving infraction occurs during the look back period the DWI penalties can be substantially increased. The date begins on the date of the first DWI arrest.

North Carolina DWI Penalties

Currently there are six levels for sentencing following a DWI conviction: Aggravated Level One, Level One, Level Two, Level Three, Level Four, and Level Five. After the conviction the judge will hold a hearing and determine the level and appropriate sentencing. The prosecution may provide evidence to prove aggravating factors, while the defendant may offer evidence of mitigating factors. Additional information can be found in North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S.) § 20-179.  

First DWI offense:

Aggravated Level One DWI Punishment:
N.C.G.S. § 20-179(f3)
(Imposed if three or more grossly aggravating factors are present)

  • Fine: Up to $10,000
  • Jail: Minimum of 12 months, maximum of 36 months — with no eligibility for parole
  • Minimum imprisonment of 120 days may be allowed with special probation
  • Probation requires substance abuse assessment and alcohol and drug education

Level One DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(g)
(The defendant was driving with a minor child or there are two other aggravating factors)

  • Fine: Up to $4,000
  • Jail: Minimum of 30 days, maximum of 24 months
  • Minimum imprisonment of 30 days may be allowed with special probation
  • Probation requires abstaining from alcohol consumption and monitoring by a continuous alcohol monitoring system
  • Probation requires a substance abuse assessment and related treatment or education

Level Two DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(h)
(No minor child was in the car and only one grossly aggravating factor is present)

  • Fine: Up to $2,000
  • Jail: Minimum of 7 days, maximum of 12 months
  • Minimum imprisonment of 7 days may be allowed with special probation
  • Probation may require abstaining from alcohol consumption and monitoring by a continuous alcohol monitoring system
  • Probation requires a substance abuse assessment and related treatment or education

Level Three DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(i)
(May be imposed if no grossly aggravating factors are present and aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors)

  • Fine: Up to $1,000
  • Jail: Minimum of 72 hours, maximum of 6 months
  • If prison time is reduced the offender must serve at least 72 hours or serve at least 72 hours of community service (or any combination)
  • If probation is imposed, it will include the requirement that the defendant undergo a substance abuse assessment and related treatment or education
  • Additional conditions may be imposed by the judge

Level Four DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(j)
(May be imposed if no aggravating or mitigating factors are present, or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by any mitigating factors)

  • Fine: Up to $500
  • Jail: Minimum of 48 hours, maximum of 120 days
  • Jail term may be suspended by sentence must include imprisonment for a term of at least 48 hours as a condition of special probation; or community service for at least 48 hours
  • If probation is imposed, it will include the requirement that the defendant undergo a substance abuse assessment and related treatment or education
  • Judge may impose other conditions

Level Five DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(k)
(May be imposed if no aggravating or mitigating factors are present or no mitigating factors substantially outweigh any aggravating factors)

  • Fine: Up to $200
  • Jail: Minimum of 24 hours, maximum of 120 days
  • Term of imprisonment may be suspended, but the suspended sentence must include: imprisonment for a term of at least 24 hours as a condition of special probation; or community service for at least 24 hours or any combination of the above
  • If probation is imposed, it will include the requirement that the defendant undergo a substance abuse assessment and related treatment

Administrative Penalties in North Carolina

Drivers in North Carolina have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test if they have been arrested for driving while impaired (DWI). Failure to consent to the required testing may result in administrative penalties, which are administered by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and are imposed regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted of DWI.

To challenge an administrative suspension, drivers must request an administrative hearing within a specified number of days by contacting the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers who refuse the chemical test will face the following administrative penalties:

  • First refusal- One year
  • Second refusal- No statutory provision
  • Third refusal- No statutory provision

(Read more: - state laws )





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