If you drive in North Carolina, it is crucial to refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense, and the penalties for conviction can include fines, jail time, and loss of your driving privileges.
State law enforces a sliding scale when it comes to DWI offenses, separating them by “levels” to indicate their severity. Level 1 DWI is the most severe, while Level 5 is the least severe. If you are arrested for DWI in the state, the level of your offense hinges on the presence of aggravating and mitigating factors in your case.
An “aggravating” factor in a DWI case is any variable in the case that increases the severity of the conviction. For example, if your offense is on the cusp of Level 2 or Level 1, too many aggravating factors will push you toward Level 1. Causing significant property damage, injuring someone, driving with an excessively high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .15%, or causing fatal injury from DWI are commonly cited aggravating factors.
A “mitigating” factor in a DWI case is a variable that works in the defendant’s favor, opposite the manner in which aggravating factors influence the case. For example, common mitigating factors that may alleviate a defendant’s situation may include complying with arresting officers’ directions, a clean criminal record, or an arrest during a traffic stop rather than after an accident.
Level 5 DWI is the lowest level DWI charge an individual can face. You will qualify for this level if your DWI offense did not involve any aggravating factors or if the mitigating factors in your case outweigh any aggravating factors.
If you are convicted of a Level 5 DWI offense, the penalties you face are likely to include a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and possibly jail time. However, most judges handling Level 5 DWI cases are willing to consider alternative penalties in lieu of jail time, especially for first offenders.
When it comes to the defendant’s fine, they may be forced to pay $200 plus court costs. They may also be required to attend mandatory substance abuse treatment and/or a drug and alcohol safety course. Their license will be suspended for one year, but if they require the ability to drive for work, they may be able to obtain a restricted license. This would enable them to drive for essential purposes until the suspension period expires.
You may have more room for flexibility in your sentencing than you initially realize, and the best asset to have in this situation is the attorneys at Christina Rivenbark & Associates. They have years of experience in DWI defense, and if your case is on the edge of a Level 5 offense, we can help you make the strongest case possible for minimal penalties. In addition, our team will assist you in uncovering every mitigating factor we can to improve your position before the judge.
If you are charged with any DWI offense in the state, it is always advisable to have legal counsel on your side. Your DWI defense attorney may be able to help you avoid conviction if you can prove you did not commit the offense in question, and if you did commit a DWI offense, they might be able to help you mitigate your penalty. Ultimately, you have the best chance of reaching a positive outcome for your case with your attorney’s assistance.
The minimum jail time for a first-time Level 5 DWI is 24 hours up to a maximum of 120 days. However, if this is your first criminal offense and no aggravating factors are present, it’s possible for the judge to opt for community service or other alternative punishment in lieu of jail time. The best way to avoid jail for a first-time Level 5 DWI offense in the state is hiring a DUI defense attorney who can help you minimize your penalties.
You can potentially have your DWI charge dropped and your case dismissed, if you can prove that the officer who arrested you failed to establish probable cause for the arrest. Alternatively, if you can prove that your rights were violated in any way by the police or that you were not intoxicated when you were arrested, these variables could also help you avoid conviction.
Most criminal defense attorneys in North Carolina charge hourly rates for their representation, meaning that the longer they spend working on your case, the more it will cost you in legal fees. Before hiring a criminal defense attorney, make sure you understand their billing policy. Some attorneys offer flat rates for specific legal services as well as hourly rates.
The “lookback period,” or the time your DWI conviction will remain visible on a background check, is seven years. However, if you were convicted of a felony DWI, this is increased to 10 years. Unfortunately, DWI convictions cannot be expunged from your record, so your conviction will remain visible on background checks until the lookback period expires, but even after this time, they can be found through a more thorough background check.
The attorneys at Christina Rivenbark & Associates have assisted many past clients with DWI defense, and we are ready to put this experience to work for you. If you need defense representation for your impending DWI case, we are ready to help you determine your best available defenses and guide you through the challenging proceedings ahead. Contact us today and schedule your free consultation with a DWI defense attorney you can trust.