Are You Going to Be Charged with a Felony for DWI in NC?
For most people, an arrest is a big deal.
It’s normal to be scared and wonder about the future – but usually, you’ll end up alright.
For immediate help, reach out to the criminal defense lawyers at Tarlton | Polk today.
You may be aware that drunk driving is a crime in North Carolina, but there are subtle differences among the various charges you may face when arrested for Driving While Impaired(DWI). The two primary categories of criminal offenses are a misdemeanor and a felony. Plus, there are classes within each group and the degree of the crime depends on the nature of the circumstances. In many cases, a DWI will result in a misdemeanor, but there are situations where felony drunk driving charges apply.
Regardless of the exact nature of the allegations against you, the consequences of a DWI conviction are serious. It is important to review how these cases work and consult with an experienced North Carolina DWI lawyer about your legal options.
North Carolina’s Strict Drunk Driving Laws
A law enforcement officer may arrest you for DWI if you are driving a vehicle:
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, measured by a blood or breath test; OR,
- While showing signs of impairment, which could be your driving behavior, appearance, or performance on field sobriety tests.
Consequences of a DWI Conviction
A drunk driving conviction affects multiple aspects of your life, including:
- Your Driving Privileges: On the administrative side of your DWI case, your driver’s license is subject to suspension. For a first offense, a suspended license for 12 months. A second conviction may lead to a four-year suspension of your driving privileges, and any subsequent offense could mean a permanent revocation.
- Your Criminal Record: Since drunk driving is a criminal offense, you may serve jail time, fines, probation – or any combination of these. The minimum sentence for an offender with no prior history and no aggravating circumstances starts at incarceration for 24 hours, plus a maximum fine of $200. In the most egregious cases, a sentencing of a minimum of 30 days in jail, a maximum of two years incarceration, and a fine up to $4,000.
When a DWI is a Felony in NC
While most drunk driving offenses are treated as misdemeanors, there are two key exceptions where felony charges apply:
- Habitual DWI Offender, if arrested for drunk driving four or more times in the 10 years prior to the current charge; and,
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk Driving, where you caused the death of another person while violating North Carolina’s laws on DWI. You can be arrested on this felony drunk driving charge even where the accident was unintentional.
Consult with DWI Lawyers in Raleigh About Your Defense
Misdemeanor DWI charges are quite serious under North Carolina law, but even more severe if you are facing felony charges. Considering the harsh penalties, you need an experienced drunk driving attorney to represent your interests. Please contact the Raleigh, NC law firm of Tarlton|Polk right away to schedule a consultation regarding your case. We can work with you to develop a defense strategy that ensures the best possible outcome under the law.