The short answer, yes. However, many people are allowed to do community service rather than serve any time in jail.
How do I know what MY punishment will be?
The judge determines the sentence for DWI cases. Judges consider many factors when deciding what the punishment should be including things that aggravate (worsen) or mitigate (lessen) the severity of the offense.
· What types of things aggravate my offense?
o Prior DWI convictions (worse if within the last 7 years)
o Revoked license at the time (worse if revoked from prior DWI)
o Gross Impairment (0.15 or more Blood Alcohol Content)
o Accident that resulted in damages of $1,000 or more or personal injury
o Speeding over 30mph over the limit
o Having a child less than 18 in the vehicle (grossly aggravating)
o Serious Injury (grossly aggravating)
o Especially reckless or dangerous driving
o Bad driving record (2 or more convictions of 3 points or more within 5 years)
o Other (the judge may consider other factors not listed here that seem to make the offense worse)
· What type of things mitigate my offense?
o Slight impairment resulting solely from alcohol (0.09 blood alcohol content or less)
o Slight impairment resulting solely from alcohol when no chemical analysis is available
o Impairment caused by lawfully prescribed drug taken at prescribed dosage
o Safe and lawful driving other than impairment
o Safe/good driving record
o Completion of a substance abuse assessment and treatment
o Completion of community service
o Polite and Cooperative
o Other (Judges may consider other factors not listed here such as being employed, in school, other good acts etc.)
DWI sentencing levels range from Aggravated 1 which is the worst, to 5 which is the lowest level DWI. A level 5 DWI typically results in a sentence to complete 24 hours of community service or serve 24 hours in jail. An aggravated level 1 could result in a maximum of 3 years in prison.
It is important to aggressively fight your DWI charge since a conviction will remain on your record. In 2015, the North Carolina legislature changed the law and now DWI convictions may not be expunged from your record. However, if your case is dismissed, or if you are found not guilty, your arrest record may be expunged permanently.
To find out the expected sentencing level of your Wake County Driving While Impaired charge, and discuss possible defenses contact Raleigh attorney Kristi Haddock or Wiley Nickel with The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC. Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call our office at 919-585-1486.