Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol on four or more occasions within ten years may be classified as a serious felony in North Carolina. Convicted offenders will be required to serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year, which cannot be suspended, and also be ordered to undergo treatment for alcohol or substance abuse under the state’s Habitual DWI law. It is up to the sentencing judge to determine whether attending a rehab program may be completed while serving time in jail or as part of the required supervised probation period.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, habitual offenders who are caught operating a motor vehicle while impaired may also lose their car. If a driver is arrested and charged with a subsequent DWI after their driver’s license was already revoked as part of their punishment for a previous offense, law enforcement officials may confiscate the vehicle on the spot. When cars are seized from habitual DWI offenders, they may be auctioned by the school board, which then makes use of the proceeds. The permanent loss of a vehicle could significantly hinder a person’s ability to drive to work or travel when necessary.
A 30-year-old Jacksonville man, for example, was arrested and charged with a felony habitual DWI. He had two prior DWI convictions and was arrested this third time with a purported breathalyzer test of 0.19 g/201 L, as reported by Jacksonville’s Daily News. His bail was set at $12,000. Regardless of the results of a DWI test and prior convictions, however, anyone who is accused of driving while under the influence in North Carolina has the right to an aggressive legal defense to fight the charges or reduce the punishment.