Arrested for Drunk Driving?
If you found yourself in the Mecklenburg County Jail, arrested and needing a Charlotte DWI lawyer, Bill Powers is here to provide legal advice and answer your questions.
“I've been helping people for more than 26 years, handling criminal charges in Charlotte. It’s an honor to serve as a defense attorney.” Bill Powers, Defense Attorney
Getting arrested for “drunk driving” in North Carolina is always serious. There can be long-term consequences, including loss of license (suspension) if you’re convicted. It doesn’t really much matter whether you personally call it “DUI” or “DWI” there is a social stigma for being arrested.
Things can get worse if you are driving without a license in NC, if your license is suspended or revoked for an implied consent offense. Indeed, DWLR or “DWLR Imp Rev” (Driving While License Revoked Impaired Revocation) is a separate criminal charge and may serve as an additional basis for a longer suspension or revocation.
Many, if not most DWI charges in Charlotte are considered a misdemeanor. That is not to say every DWI charge is a misdemeanor.
Impaired driving can be what defense lawyers call a predicate offense for other, more serious felony charges. Driving Under the Influence is said to cause the loss of normal mental functions or faculties to an appreciable, noticeable extent. That’s what it means to be “impaired” or “under the influence” of an impairing substance.
To be clear, there is something called Felony DWI in North Carolina. You may have heard it referred to as “Habitual DWI” and is related to a series of prior DWI charges and convictions.
Habitual Impaired Driving in North Carolina is set forth in N.C.G.S. 20-138.5. It is a Class F felony, mandating an active jail term (while people mail refer to it as a “jail sentence,” felony charges are technically subject to a prison term in the custody of the NC Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice) of “not less than 12 months.”
If you’d like to see who is prison and conduct an “inmate search” of the NC Offender Information system, click here. You may also conduct an Offender Search through the ICOTS Web Portal (Interstate Compact Offender Tracking System) here.
If convicted of DWI either through a trial or guilty plea, the Judge is required to hold a “sentencing hearing” subject to N.C.G.S. 20-179.
How DWI charges are handled is technically different and separate from more serious felony DWI charges in North Carolina.
As stated, Felony DWI or “Habitual Impaired Driving” is sentenced as a Class F felony pursuant to the NC sentencing guidelines. You may download a copy of the felony sentencing grid here. The maximum active jail sentence (prison term) for a Class F felony is 41 to 59 months, in the aggravated sentencing range.
Ordinarily Felony DWI in NC charges involve a prior history of “drunken driving” convictions, specifically 3 or more DWI convictions in 10 years PLUS a new conviction of driving while impaired subject to N.C.G.S. 20-138.1.
That’s different than other felony charges related to impaired driving, which may include things like:
- 2nd Degree Murder
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle
- Felony Death by Vehicle
- Repeat Felony Death by Vehicle
While they may be related to DWI charges in Charlotte (and North Carolina), they are separate and distinct offenses. Impaired driving may be considered a predicate offense as it can be a component of more serious felony charges.
Defense lawyers are careful to explain to clients the legal processes involved, specifically making certain clients understand an indictment for a “DWI related” felony charge does not necessarily violate the 5 th Amendment Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution.Call Charlotte DWI Attorney Bill Powers
At Powers Law Firm PA, we provide legal advice about DWI charges in Charlotte, Gastonia, Monroe NC, Rowan County, Iredell County, and throughout North Carolina.
The legal consultation is always FREE for criminal charges in North Carolina and South Carolina. Attorney Chris Beddow is the sole attorney at Powers Law Firm PA licensed to practice law in SC. He is also licensed as an attorney in North Carolina.
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