If a law enforcement officer stops you for drinking and driving in North Carolina, the state may charge you with one of five levels of a misdemeanor DWI. The levels are increasingly severe and have corresponding punishments.
It is important that you understand the various levels of DWI charges so you can anticipate not only what to expect but also, how to defend yourself. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety explains the five levels of DWI charges you may receive in the Tar Heel State.
A level V DWI is the least severe type of DWI charge you may receive in NC. If convicted, you face between one day and 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $200. If you decide to not operate a motor vehicle for 30 days, perform at least 24 hours of community service or serve 24 hours in jail, the judge has the option to suspend your sentence.
If a judge convicts you of a Level IV DWI, you must serve between 48 hours and 120 days in jail. You may also receive a fine of up to $500. As with a Level V DWI, the judge has the option to suspend your sentence if you give up your driving privileges for 60 days, serve 48 hours of community service or spend 48 hours in jail.
A Level III DWI is a more severe DWI charge that carries with it the possibility of between 72 hours and six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The judge may suspend your sentence if you agree to not operate a motor vehicle for 90 days, dedicate 72 hours to community service or serve 72 hours in jail.
If you receive Level II DWI charges, you must serve a minimum jail sentence of one week but no more than one year. The judge may impose a fine of up to $2,000. The judge does not have the right to suspend your jail sentence.
A Level I DWI charge is the most severe type of misdemeanor DWI charge you may receive in North Carolina. A Level I misdemeanor DWI conviction means a jail sentence of between 30 days and two years and a fine of up to $4,000. As with a Level II DWI, a judge cannot suspend your sentence.
DWI charges can have immediate and long-term consequences. If you face charges of any kind, it is imperative that you take steps right away to minimize the impact on your future.