North Carolina poses strict punishments for driving under the influence, or DUI. The process of determining a sentence for a DUI is complex and depends on several factors of your offense.
In North Carolina, “under the influence” includes any impairing substance or controlled substance that impacts your ability to drive safely. When the substance is alcohol, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. For drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the BAC legal limit is .04%. Those under the legal drinking age of 21 can be charged with a DUI for any level of intoxication.
When you drive a vehicle in North Carolina, you are consenting to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI. If a police officer has reasonable suspicion and arrests you, they can request that you take a breath, blood, or urine chemical test. Refusal to do so will result in license revocation for 12 months.
Implied consent laws only apply to chemical tests after a lawful arrest. You can refuse a field sobriety test without any adverse actions.
North Carolina DUI laws are complex because penalties are determined by the mitigating factors, aggravating factors, and grossly aggravating factors in your case. The court must weigh each of these factors and determine what sentencing you receive.
Grossly aggravating factors are the most severe and include:
Aggravating factors may increase penalties for your DUI. They include:
Mitigating factors can lessen the severity of your punishment. As the defendant, you have the burden of proving any mitigating factors. These include:
Depending on what factors are present in your case, the judge will determine what level of DUI sentencing you will receive.
There are six levels of DUI sentencing, with Aggravated Level 1 and Level 1 being the most severe and Level 5 being the least:
For Levels 3 to 5, no gross aggravating factors are present. The judge will determine whether there are more mitigating and aggravating factors or if they are equal:
If the judge suspends the minimum sentence, they will require community service hours.
For the lowest DUI penalty in North Carolina, there is a minimum penalty of 24 hours in jail to a maximum of 120 days. If the judge waives the sentence, then you must complete a minimum of 24 hours of community service. Penalties also include up to $200 in fines.
North Carolina considers impairment of your driving from any substance, illegal or prescribed, to be driving under the influence. The legal limit blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher to be convicted of a DUI. If you are under 21, any amount of impairing substance can result in a DUI conviction.
This depends on the severity of the circumstances surrounding your DUI. If there were aggravating factors or gross aggravating factors present, like injury, speeding, or minors in the vehicle, penalties are more serious. If there are no aggravating factors, a minimum sentence in jail can be replaced with community service.
A DUI first-offense conviction in North Carolina will result in a license revocation for a period of one year, followed by one year with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in the vehicle. On a second offense within seven years, your license is revoked for four years, which is followed by IID installation for three years. On a third offense, your license is permanently revoked.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s essential that you work with an experienced DUI defense attorney. An attorney can work to argue down your sentence, present mitigating factors, and advocate for your rights. Contact Edwards Law, PLLC, today for legal counsel.