2024 How Much Does a DUI Cost in North Carolina?

If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) in the state, you are understandably worried about the penalties you could face if convicted. While most people in this situation dread going to jail, they often fail to understand the financial cost until much later, following conviction. How much does a DUI cost in North Carolina?

Understanding the Cost of a DUI/DWI

The terms DWI and DUI are used interchangeably in the state, but the law states the offense as DWI. If you are arrested for operating your vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, you are likely to face multiple penalties if you are convicted. North Carolina law assigns penalties for DWI using a sliding scale of severity from level one to level five. The level assigned to you will depend on the aggravating and mitigating factors in your case.

Aggravating factors work against a defendant and increase the severity of their penalties. These generally include causing bodily harm or death to another party, arrest with an excessively high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), or arrest while under the influence of a combination of multiple substances. Penalty levels also increase if a driver has a record of a prior DWI conviction within the past few years.

If you are convicted of a DWI in the state, the penalties that could be assigned to you may include:

  • Fines, the amount of which increases based on the level of the DWI offense.
  • Penalty assessments and court fees.
  • Jail time, which will be in county jail for a misdemeanor or state prison for a felony.
  • Mandatory DWI education courses at your own expense.
  • Mandatory substance abuse treatment at your own expense.
  • Mandatory driver safety schooling at your own expense.
  • Community service.

While these penalties could add up tremendously and result in you paying thousands of dollars, the economic effects of your DWI conviction do not end with the penalties assigned by the court. Your auto insurance provider will also respond to your conviction by increasing your insurance premiums. Your auto insurance policy likely includes terms outlining what you can expect in this situation, and it could amount to thousands of dollars more in premiums over the next few years.

Enlist the Support of an Experienced DUI/DWI Attorney

Ultimately, it may take time for the true cost of your DWI conviction to be felt, which is why it is so crucial to have an experienced defense attorney on your side for this type of case. Your attorney can identify your most viable defenses, potentially reducing the total economic impact of your conviction or even helping you avoid conviction under certain conditions.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates provides responsive criminal defense counsel for all types of DWI cases. We understand that you are likely dreading the aftermath of your case and may have many difficult questions about your defense options, and we are ready to provide direction and support in this difficult situation. It’s vital that you reach out to our team right away after you have been arrested for DWI.


Q: Will You Go to Jail for a First-Time DWI?

A: You could go to jail for a first-time DWI in the state if there are significant aggravating factors in your case. For example, if you had an excessively high BAC, caused an accident resulting in injury or death, or if you committed additional offenses, jail time could be one of your penalties. However, if you committed a first-time DWI with minimal aggravating factors, a judge may consider alternative punishments and spare you jail time.

Q: What Is the Total Cost of a DWI Conviction?

A: The total cost of a DWI conviction may not be fully felt for months or even years after sentencing. The judge handling your sentence is likely to require you to pay a fine along with court fees and penalty assessments. If you harm anyone, you will owe them restitution and compensation for their damages. Your auto insurance premiums will also increase once your insurer becomes aware of your DWI offense.

Q: Do I Need to Hire a Defense Attorney for a DWI Charge?

A: Yes, you need to hire a defense attorney for a DWI charge in the state. Hiring experienced defense counsel significantly reduces the chance you will face the worst penalties that could be assigned to you. Your attorney can help capitalize on every available defense and may even identify grounds to have your case dropped. Defense representation is especially important if you are charged with felony DWI.

Q: What Damages Will I Owe if I Caused an Accident?

A: The damages you would owe if you caused an accident depend on the severity of the harm you caused. If you crash into someone else while under the influence, they are likely to file a claim against your auto policy for as much compensation as possible, and if your insurance cannot fully cover their damages, they will respond with a personal injury suit. You could owe property damage, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering compensation to the victim.

Q: How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record?

A: A DWI will stay on your record permanently. There is no way to have a DWI conviction expunged, and the conviction will be permanently visible on any background checks performed on you. If you commit another DWI within a few years of the first, it will lead to increased penalties for the second conviction. Penalties for subsequent DWI convictions after a first are generally far more severe.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates provides comprehensive defense representation for DWI cases. If you have been charged with DWI, the situation can be incredibly distressing, and it is natural for you to have many difficult questions about your circumstances. With our help, you can approach the case with greater confidence and potentially reduce the total cost of your DWI. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.

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