If you were driving while intoxicated and are facing DWI charges, you should understand what the potential penalties are.
The consequences of a conviction can affect your finances, career and family life, and some of them are long-lasting.
Penalties for a DWI
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, misdemeanor DWI convictions are in five levels, and there is also a felony DWI conviction for habitual offenders. Level V is the least serious and level I is the most serious.
Penalties range from a fine of $200 to $4,000, minimum jail time of 48 hours to 30 days, with a maximum of up to two years. At the less serious levels, a judge may suspend the sentence in lieu of jail time, community service or the ceasing of vehicle operation for a period of time. For a felony DWI, there is a minimum jail time of one year as well as a substance abuse program requirement.
Refusing a breath or blood test can result in license revocation for one year, even if you do not receive a DWI conviction in court.
Potential defense strategies
Because of the seriousness of the charge, it is worth fighting it in court. FindLaw outlines some defense strategies that may be effective. One argument is that you were unaware that you were drinking alcohol, such as if someone spiked your drink without your knowledge. Evidence may also show that you genuinely believed you were not drunk. Other defenses may include duress, necessity and entrapment.
The most common defense strategies, however, are to fight the actual blood or breath test results or challenge the legality of the initial traffic stop.