When a North Carolina resident is placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated, the circumstances and the driver’s history will dictate what level of charges he or she will face. It is important to bear in mind that there are five levels of DWI in the state. Knowing what the potential penalties are based on the situation is an important aspect of formulating a defense.

There will be a Level I or Level II charge if the driver is a repeat offender, has driven with a revoked license, is impaired, is impaired and has young children in the vehicle, or was impaired and injured someone in an accident. Those who are charged and convicted of Level I and II can regain driving privileges after the revocation period ends and they have complied with treatment requirements. There will be a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of at least 30 days and up to two years. The minimum sentence cannot be suspended. Level II has a $2,000 fine and a jail sentence of seven days to one year. The minimum sentence cannot be suspended for Level II either.

With Level III, there can be a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of a minimum of 72 hours and up to six months. The sentence for Level III can be suspended once the driver has spent those 72 hours in jail, has had 72 hours of community service or did not drive for 90 days. For Level IV, the fine will be up to $500. The jail time is a minimum of 48 hours and up to 120 days. The sentence can be suspended, but the driver must stay in jail for 48 hours, do 48 hours of community service, or not drive for 60 days. For Level V, the fine will be $200. There will be a 24-hour jail sentence and up to 60 days. The sentence can be suspended for staying in jail for 24 hours, doing 24 hours of community service, or not driving for 30 days.

Drivers must be cognizant that these penalties are separate from felony DWI, penalties for commercial drivers who commit DWI and the possibility that law enforcement will confiscate a repeat offender’s vehicle. Any amount of time in jail and the other penalties that a driver will face for a DWI conviction can be problematic and should be defended against. There are many ways to craft a successful defense or perhaps get the charges reduced. Having legal help from a lawyer who is experienced at defending clients charged with DWI is the first step toward a strong defense.