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Dysart Willis

Understand the levels of sentencing for DWI in North Carolina

If you face DWI charges in North Carolina, it may be helpful to know what may happen. In the State of North Carolina, there are several different levels that the courts consider to determine an individual’s penalty when found guilty. Understand what you could be facing by reviewing the different levels of sentencing in a DWI case.

Each level is determined by looking at a number of factors, including details of the DWI incident, your driving record and history, any prescription medications you take, and your BAC. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety provides a detailed description of the sentencing for each violation level. These details fit into one of two categories: aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are aspects that prove fault, and the prosecution generally presents them. On the other hand, mitigating factors are presented by the defense and show reasons the court should be lenient. The weight of each type of factor heavily influences the level chosen for sentencing.

Level 5 is the lowest offense level that most first-time offenders face. In such cases, there are no gross aggravating factors and some mitigating factors. If there are no gross aggravating factors but the mitigating factors balance with other aggravating factors, then the guilty party may receive a Level 4 sentencing. Should there be no gross aggravating factors but the additional aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, then the defendant may face Level 3 sentencing.

Level 2 and Level 1 sentencing are for the most detrimental cases and therefore carry harsher sentences. Regardless of mitigating factors, if there is one grossly aggravating factor, the guilty party will most likely face a Level 2 sentence. Should there be two grossly aggravating factors, or if there is a minor in the vehicle during the offense, the defendant will probably receive a Level 1 sentence.

Understanding the different sentencing levels can help you and your attorney prepare for your trial properly. Considering the seriousness of the charges and punishment faced, it is critical to have the right support in your corner.