Under ordinary circumstances, a DUI offense in the state of North Carolina is a misdemeanor. While a misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony, misdemeanor DUIs are complex and can carry serious consequences including a maximum jail sentence of 3 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. This is in addition to driver’s license revocation and submission to alcohol monitoring for a specified period.
A misdemeanor DUI charge is a serious legal matter, but there are certain instances in which a DUI can be elevated to a felony, which carries even more serious penalties. A felony DUI conviction carries a mandatory prison sentence that can’t be suspended as well as a permanent revocation of your driver’s license among other serious consequences.
If you are facing a felony DUI charge, it is in your best interests that you contact our experienced Asheville felony DUI defense lawyers at Doug Edwards Law as soon as possible. We will help you build a strong defense.
Yes, as noted, under certain circumstances, a DUI will be upgraded to the most serious of all DUI charges: a felony DUI. And depending on your specific situation you can also be charged with other DUI-related felonies.
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, you might be worried about whether your case will be prosecuted as a felony. Here is what you need to know about felony DUIs in the State of North Carolina.
For a DUI offense to be charged as a felony either of the two factors below should be present:
Keep in mind that in the state of North Carolina, prior convictions include DUI convictions in other states.
Under the law in N.C., your offense may be elevated to a felony offense if you have caused serious injury or death to another as a result of your impaired driving or you have three convictions for an impaired driving offense within the preceding ten years of the current offense.
If you are convicted of a felony DUI in the state of North Carolina, you can expect to serve a mandatory minimum one-year prison sentence. Under North Carolina law, the judge is not allowed to suspend this sentence. Other legal consequences include the permanent revocation of your driver’s license, large fines, and a court-mandated substance abuse program. Under certain circumstances, the State may seize your vehicle.
Besides the legal penalties of a felony DUI, you also have to worry about other collateral consequences. These include the impact of having a felony conviction on your criminal record. Some potential consequences include your ability to retain a job or find a new one, your ability to secure car and home loans, education, your right to bear arms, and other aspects of your life.
In the State of North Carolina, habitual driving while intoxicated is a felony offense. For one to be classified as a habitual DWI offender, they must have at least three prior DWI convictions within ten years immediately preceding the fourth offense.
In the State of North Carolina, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. They have to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because you have been accused of being a habitual DWI offender, it doesn’t mean that you are guilty of the offense.
The state of North Carolina is required to prove the following elements:
It is important to note that in the State of North Carolina, prior convictions do not need to have occurred in North Carolina. These convictions can also be for a wide range of offenses involving drunk driving. These include:
If you are found guilty of habitual DUI in North Carolina, you can face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year, the seizure of the vehicle you were driving when the offense occurred, and the permanent suspension of your driver’s license. You may also have to submit to an alcohol treatment program.
After 10 years have passed since your last DWI conviction, you can petition the DMV to restore your driving privileges. To be eligible to petition the DMV, a habitual offender must show that:
While North Carolina restores an individual’s civil rights upon the completion of their sentence, the Felony Firearms Act prohibits anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony to possess a gun.
Drunk driving can cause many issues from criminal punishment to serious injury or death. If you cause an accident that results in serious injury or death of another person, criminal penalties are much more serious. The law provides for specific charges in situations where someone is seriously hurt or killed in a collision involving an impaired driver.
Here are some other felony DUI charges that you could face:
You can be charged with felony death by vehicle if you unintentionally cause the death of another while committing the offense of driving while impaired, and impaired driving is a proximate cause of the person’s death. The prosecution has to prove the following elements of this crime:
Felony death by vehicle is classified as a Class D felony, and carries a maximum possible punishment of 204 months in prison.
A person may be charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle when a driver unintentionally causes the death of another person during the operation of a motor vehicle in violation of a local ordinance, traffic law, or any law that governs the safe operation of a motor vehicle in North Carolina.
The prosecution has to prove that the driver broke one of these laws and their violation of this law was a proximate cause of the accident that led to the death of the deceased. Misdemeanor death by vehicle is a Class A1 misdemeanor and carries a maximum possible punishment of 150 days in jail. If you are convicted of misdemeanor death by vehicle, your license will be revoked for one year, and you will not qualify for a limited driving privilege.
You can be charged with felony serious injury by vehicle if you unintentionally cause serious injury to another person while driving while impaired. To be convicted of this offense, it has to be proven that your drunk driving was a proximate cause of the injuries. Felony serious injury by vehicle is a class F felony and carries a maximum possible sentence of 59 months in prison.
You can be charged with aggravated felony death by vehicle if you unintentionally cause the death of another while committing the offense of driving while impaired, and the impaired driving is a proximate cause of the person’s death, and you have been found guilty of the crime of impaired driving within the preceding 7 years.
Aggravated felony death by vehicle is classified as a Class D felony. The judge must sentence in the aggravated range, with a maximum possible punishment of 204 months in prison.
You can be charged with aggravated felony serious injury by vehicle if you have a prior conviction involving drunk driving within 7 years of the current offense. Aggravated felony injury by vehicle is a Class E felony, with a maximum possible punishment of 88 months.
Felony offenses are serious crimes in North Carolina. The state of North Carolina takes DUI offenses very seriously. Here are some of the consequences you can expect in a conviction for DUI charges.
If you unintentionally cause serious injuries to another person as a direct result of your drunk driving and are convicted, you can expect a driver’s suspension of up to four years, and a maximum prison sentence of 59 months.
In the event that you are found guilty of causing the death of another person as a result of drunk driving, you can expect the permanent revocation of your driver’s license and a prison sentence not exceeding 204 months.
If you are convicted of aggravated serious injury by vehicle, you can expect a permanent revocation of your driver’s license and a prison sentence of up to 88 months.
If you are found guilty of aggravated death by vehicle, you will likely be sentenced to a prison term not to exceed 204 months, among other penalties.
In the event that you are found guilty of causing the death of another person, and have been previously convicted of the same crime, you can expect the permanent revocation of your driver’s license and a maximum prison sentence of 484 months in prison.
Besides the legal consequences of drunk driving, you also have to worry about the long-term consequences of having a criminal conviction on your permanent record.
Doug Edwards will work hard to find the truth in your case. No two DUI cases are ever the same, and each one requires a personalized approach for success. Edwards Law will work directly with you and your family to prepare a solid defense under the circumstances of your case providing the best chance for success in your defense.
If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence, whether you are guilty of the crime or not, it is in your best interests that you get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.
A felony DUI bears heavy consequences that can affect all aspects of your life. The stakes are extraordinarily high when it comes to North Carolina felony DUI charges. Your freedom, finances, and reputation are at stake. You need to ensure that you take all the right steps. This is where an experienced Asheville felony DUI defense lawyer comes in.
In the event that you are arrested for drunk driving and suspect that you might be facing a felony DUI in North Carolina, it is in your best interests that you get in touch with an experienced Asheville DUI defense attorney.