If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, it is important to educate yourself thoroughly on all the laws pertaining to your state. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of the top four things that you should know about DWI in North Carolina.

  1. The Definition of “DWI”

Because of the North Carolina’s Safe Roads Act that was passed in 1983, the law regarding impaired driving was changed to incorporate several items under the same heading of “DWI.” Although the term “DUI” is often used casually, in North Carolina, “DWI”, or “Driving While Impaired,” is the official terminology used.

A person will usually be charged with DWI if an officer has enough proof to determine that you were operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% or higher, if you were operating a vehicle with a BAC lower than 0.08% but were exhibiting signs of impairment, or if you were operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.04%.

  1. The Five Levels of DWI

In North Carolina, penalties are based on a leveling system that includes five different levels of severity. The level with the lowest penalty is Level 5, with the severity increasing to Aggravated Level 1. In Level 5, the person convicted can expect up to a $200 fine, 24 hours to 60 days in jail, possible probation, a substance abuse assessment, and a suspension of their license of up to 30 days. Aggravated Level 1 constitutes up to a $10,000 fine, 12 to 36 months in jail, monitored abstinence for four months after release from prison, substance abuse assessment and, and suspension of their license. For a complete list of the five levels, you can visit DMV.com.

  1. Limited License Petitions

If you have been convicted of a DWI and your license has been revoked, it can be extremely difficult to get to your place of work. It is possible to apply for a limited license so that you can continue to drive yourself to work.

  1. The Three Statutory Factors

The level of penalties is based on three statutory factors that courts consider when deciding on a punishment. Mitigating Factors can be taken into account if the driving was safe other than the impairment, if the impairment was due to a prescription drug, and/or if the driver has an otherwise clean driving record. Aggravated Factors are considered if the BAC is over 0.15%, the driver was driving with a revoked license or no license, or if the driver was speeding at the time as well. Grossly Aggravated Factors are when the driver has other recent DWIs on record, the incident caused injury or accident, or there was a child in the car.

If you have been charged or convicted of a DWI, it is always important to have a lawyer to represent you. In the meantime, be sure to educate yourself so that you can take an active part in your defense.