After a person is convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina, a judge is required to hold a sentencing hearing to determine whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors that might affect the sentence to be imposed.
At the sentencing hearing, the judge must first determine whether there are any “grossly aggravating” factors in the case. Grossly aggravating factors include:
If the judge finds that two or more grossly aggravating factors apply, the judge must impose Level One punishment. If the judge finds that one aggravating factor applies, the judge must impose Level Two punishment.
If there are no grossly aggravating factors in the case, the judge must weigh all “aggravating” and “mitigating” factors. Aggravating factors include:
After the judge determines aggravating factors, he or she must then weigh “mitigating” factors. Mitigating factors include:
If the judge determines that the aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors, the offender is subject to Level Three punishment. If the judge determines that there are no aggravating or mitigating factors or that the aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by the mitigating factors, the offender is subject to Level Four punishment. If the mitigating factors substantially outweigh any aggravating factors, the offender is subject to Level Five punishment.
An offender whose license was revoked because of a DWI conviction where the offender had a BAC of .16 or more or an offender had been convicted of a previous DWI within seven years of the current offense will be required to use an ignition interlock system. If the original revocation period was one year, the offender is required to use the system for one year from the date that his or her license is restored. If the original revocation period was four years, the offender is required to use the system for three years from the date that his or her license is restored. If the original revocation was a permanent revocation and the permanent revocation was lifted, the offender will be required to use an ignition interlock system for seven years from the date of restoration.
In addition to other penalties associated with North Carolina’s DWI laws, a commercial driver who is convicted of DWI while operating any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If, however, however, the offender was driving a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the disqualification period is three years. If a commercial driver is convicted of a second DWI while operating any vehicle, the offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years. If, however, the offender is convicted of driving a commercial vehicle while impaired for a third time, the disqualification period is for life without the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years.
In addition to other penalties associated with North Carolina’s DWI and commercial vehicle DWI laws, a person who operates a school bus, school activity bus, or child care vehicle after consuming alcohol or if the person drives while consuming alcohol or while alcohol remains in the person’s body faces one to 10 days of community punishment and a $200 fine.
Underage DWI is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A first offense is punishable by one to 30 days of community punishment, and the offender may also be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Second, third, fourth, and fifth offenses are punishable by one to 45 days of community, intermediate, or active punishment. A judge may, however, punish the underage offender under the DWI laws applicable to adult offenders.
Under this law, a person who is injured because of the actions of an impaired driver under 21 can file suit for damages against the drinking establishment that served the minor if the sale was negligent; if the minor’s consumption of alcohol caused or contributed to the minor’s impairment; and if the injury was caused by the minor’s negligent operation of a vehicle while the minor was impaired. Under this statute, evidence of negligence includes the bar’s failure to request identification from the minor. This law prohibits the minor driver and the person who served the underage minor from filing a claim for damages. The total amount of damages that may be awarded to all injured parties is $500,000. North Carolina permits an injured party to bring a claim under its common law, but prohibits a double recovery for the same injury under this statute.
In North Carolina, it is illegal for a person to sell or provide alcohol to a person under 21. A first offense subjects the offender to one to 45 days of community punishment and a fine to be determined by a judge. A second, third, fourth, or fifth violation subjects the offender to one to 45 days of active punishment, which may include incarceration. At a minimum, the law requires first-time offenders to pay a fine of at least $250 and complete at least 25 hours of community service. If a person has a previous conviction in the four years preceding the date of the current offense, the offender must pay a fine of at least $500 and complete at least 150 hours of community service.
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Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.