Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Why is it important to hire a DWI lawyer quickly after being charged with a DWI?”
When a defendant is convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina, they will appear at a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the judge will review the evidence and hear arguments from the attorneys to determine the appropriate sentence for the defendant.
The judge will review whether there are aggravating factors to order severe penalties for DWI. If there were any aggravating or grossly aggravating factors surrounding the DWI incident, and the factors can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge may choose a sentence that is higher than the average term.
What are the Aggravating Factors in North Carolina DWI Cases?
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-179, there are specific aggravating factors that can result in harsher penalties for the defendant convicted of DWI. The list of aggravating factors in DWI cases includes:
- The defendant’s physical and mental faculties were grossly impaired by alcohol;
- The defendant was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .15%;
- The defendant engaged in dangerous or reckless driving;
- The defendant’s negligence caused a reportable motor vehicle accident;
- The defendant was operating a vehicle with a revoked driver’s license;
- The defendant has had two or more prior convictions for motor vehicle violations excluding impaired driving that come with at least three points placed against their driving record within five years of the date of the DWI offense;
- The defendant has had two or more prior convictions excluding impaired driving that caused their driver’s license to be revoked within five years of the date of the DWI offense;
- The defendant has had one or more prior convictions for impaired driving more than 7 years before the date of the DWI offense;
- The defendant has been convicted of speeding while attempting to evade arrest;
- The defendant has been convicted of speeding because they exceeded the speed limit by over 30 mph;
- The defendant passed a school bus that was stopped for boarding in violation of North Carolina traffic law; or
- There were other factors that aggravated the seriousness of the defendant’s DWI.
What are the Grossly Aggravating Factors in North Carolina DWI Cases?
North Carolina law also has grossly aggravating factors that can result in harsher penalties. If the defendant has at least three grossly aggravating factors, they can face Aggravated Level 1 punishment, which includes a minimum of 12 months in jail.
Grossly aggravating factors in DWI cases include:
- A conviction for impaired driving within 7 years of the date of the DWI offense;
- A conviction for impaired driving after the date of the DWI offense for which the defendant is being sentenced;
- A prior conviction for impaired driving from a district court has been appealed and withdrawn or remanded back to the court for which the defendant is awaiting sentencing;
- The defendant was driving with a driver’s license revoked for prior impaired driving convictions;
- The defendant’s impairment caused serious injury to another person; or
- The defendant was operating a motor vehicle while impaired with one of the following passengers: a child under the age of 18, a person with the mental capacity of a child, or a person whose physical disability prevents them from exiting the vehicle without another person’s help.
If you are facing serious DWI penalties due to the presence of aggravating or grossly aggravating factors, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney to challenge the factors and reduce the punishment. Our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can help. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:
See Our Related Blog Posts: