A Track Record Of Successful Results
Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

When is a DWI upgraded to a felony charge?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2020 | criminal defense, DWI/DUI

There is a whole slew of variables and factors that could change an allegation of driving while impaired to a felony charge. DWI (Driving While Impaired) charges in North Carolina carry historically higher penalties than DUIs (Driving Under the Influence). Even with an otherwise clean record, there are several important considerations for what criteria a court may cite when categorizing an offense.

Understanding the DWI category stratification

In North Carolina, several additional components of a charge that could increase the penalties involved in a DWI and turn what would otherwise be a misdemeanor into a felony. These factors are called ‘grossly aggravating factors.’ Here’s what you should know regarding the factors influencing the severity of a DUI/DWI:

  • There are five levels of penalties related to DWI misdemeanor charges. The most severe penalties are listed under the Level I charges, reducing in severity to Level V. The maximum penalty for a Level I conviction is a $4000 fine and 30 days to two years in jail.
  • Drivers who have received three DWI convictions within the seven-year look-back period in North Carolina can receive a felony charge. If convicted, the sentence could include a year in jail, forced admittance to a rehabilitation facility and civil penalties.
  • Other aggravating factors include the defendant having a child under 16 in the car at the time of the offense, driving under a revoked license due to a prior DWI/DUI conviction or if another person is seriously injured or killed in a collision related to your DWI charge.

Working to get your life back

Any DWI conviction could have enormous consequences on your personal and professional life. For those who rely on car transportation to commute to work, a conviction can jeopardize their work security or business opportunities. Whatever the circumstances were leading to your DWI/DUI charge, it is essential that you find a lawyer experienced in criminal defense for DWI/DUI cases.