North Carolina DWI Sentencing Guide

DWI Punishment Levels

Level Five DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(k)

o Imposed If:
   o Mitigating Factors substantially outweigh any aggravating factors
o Fine: Up to $200
o Jail: Minimum of not less than 24 hours and a Maximum of not more than 120 days
   o However: The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed to require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 24 Hours, or community service for at least 24 Hours, or any combination of the two previously mentioned items.
   o If the defendant is placed on probation, the judge shall impose as requirements that the defendant:
       ♣ Obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment, and
       ♣ Any additionally lawful conditions of the probation the judge should choose to impose.

Level Four DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(j)

o Imposed If:
   o No aggravating or mitigating factors are present, or
o Aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by any mitigating factors
o Fine: Up to $500
o Jail: Minimum of not less than 48 hours and a Maximum of not more than 120 days
   o However: The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed to require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 48 Hours, or community service for at least 48 Hours, or any combination of the two previously mentioned items.
   o If the defendant is placed on probation, the judge shall impose as requirements that the defendant:
      ♣ Obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment, and
      ♣ Any additionally lawful conditions of the probation the judge should choose to impose.

Level Three DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(i)

o Imposed If:
   o No Grossly Aggravating factors are present, and
   o Aggravating Factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors
o Fine: Up to $1.000
o Jail: Minimum of not less than 72 hours and a Maximum of not more than 6 months
   o However: The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed to require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 72 Hours, or community service for at least 72 hours, or any combination of the two previously mentioned items.
   o If the defendant is placed on probation, the judge shall impose as requirements that the defendant:
        ♣ Obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment, and
        ♣ Any additionally lawful conditions of the probation the judge should choose to impose.

Level Two DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(h)

o Imposed if:
   o No minor child (under 18) was present in the vehicle, and
   o Only one other grossly aggravating factor is present
o Fine: up to $2,000
o Jail: Minimum of not less than 7 days and a Maximum of not more than 12 months
   o However: The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed to require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 7 days, or
   o The defendant abstains from consuming alcohol for at least 90 consecutive days, as verified by a continuous alcohol monitoring system, of a type approved by the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety
   o Except: If the defendant is subject to Level Two punishment based on a prior DWI conviction or driving or a driver’s license revoked as a result to a prior DWI, AND the conviction for a prior offense involving impaired driving occurred within five years before the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced and the judge suspends all active terms of imprisonment and imposes abstention from alcohol as verified by a continuous alcohol monitory system, then the judge must also impose as an additional condition of special probation that the defendant must complete 240 hours of community service.
   o If the defendant is placed on probation, the judge shall impose as requirements that the defendant:
       ♣ Obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment, and
       ♣ Abstain from alcohol consumption for minimum period of 30 days up to the maximum of the term of probation.

Level One DWI Punishment: N.C.G.S. § 20-179(g)

o Imposed if:
    o The Defendant was accompanied by:
       ♣ A child under the age of 18 years, or
       ♣ A person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years, or
       ♣ A person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle at the time of the offense, or
o Any two of the other grossly aggravating factors are present.
o Fine: Up to $4,000
o Jail: Minimum of not less than 30 days and a Maximum of not more than 24 months
    o However: The term of imprisonment may be suspended only if a condition of special probation is imposed to require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 30 days
       ♣ A judge may reduce the minimum term of imprisonment required to a term of not less than 10 days if a condition of special probation is imposed to require that a defendant abstain from alcohol consumption and be monitored by a continuous alcohol monitoring system, of a type approved by the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety, for a period of not less than 120 days
    o If the defendant is placed on probation, the judge shall impose as requirements that the defendant:
        ♣ Obtain a substance abuse assessment and the education or treatment, and
        ♣ Abstain from alcohol consumption for minimum period of 30 days up to the maximum of the term of probation.

Arrested for Driving While Under the Influence?

Hall & Dixon PLLC can help. Our attorneys know the ins and outs of North Carolina’s DWI laws. We’ll examine the details of your case carefully and make sure all proper procedure was followed during your arrest. If we find any evidence that can be used in support of your defense, we’ll make note of it and present it in court.

You can rely on us to negotiate with the judge on your behalf and do everything possible to reduce the effects of a conviction. Schedule a consultation for your DWI charge by calling 704-993-6825.


Get in touch with Hall & Dixon to learn more.