Punishments and Sentencing in DWI Charges

What are the Factors Considered in Punishments and Sentencing in DWI Charges?

  • What are Grossly Aggravating Factor(s)?
  • What are Aggravating Factors?
  • What are Mitigating Factors?

Sentencing in Driving While Impaired cases in North Carolina involves a balancing process of the “factors” associated with the particular offense.

Our “NC DWI Quick Reference Guide” is a starting point for researching DWI information:

North Carolina DWI Quick Reference Guide

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How people are sentenced and the factors that are considered continue to develop – Bill Powers 

North Carolina General Statute 20-179

Sentencing hearing after conviction for impaired driving; determination of grossly aggravating and aggravating and mitigating factors; punishments.


Sentencing in North Carolina DWI Cases

Click Image – Link to NCGA 20-179

Sentencing Hearing and Burdens of Proof

  • Requires Conviction
  • The Judge Shall Hold a Sentencing Hearing
  • Determination of whether there are Aggravating or Mitigating Factors
  • State Burden of Proving Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – Aggravating Factors
  • The Offender Bears the Burden of Proof by a Preponderance of Evidence – Mitigating Factors

Determining Existence of Grossly Aggravating Factors

It is important carefully consider the law, facts, science. . .and consequences of DWI charges.   – Bill Powers 

Impaired Driving Determination of Sentencing Factors

Click Image for Link to North Carolina Determination Form

See:  Time Out: What is Probable Cause for NC DWI Cases?

Transcript for Hearing Impaired

Modified Transcript of “Punishments and Sentencing in DWI Charges” for the Hearing Impaired

Sentencing on DUI cases in North Carolina continues to develop.   I don’t think anyone thinks that DUIs aren’t serious anymore. In fact, I think most people realize there’s actually a war on driving while impaired cases.

How people are sentenced and the factors that are considered continues to develop. Most recently we’ve added to the level of DUI. There used to traditionally be five and now there’s six, an aggravated level of impaired driving.

We’ve also added to the four big main categories of what we call grossly aggravating factors. Now in the grossly aggravating factors we’ve got a prior DUI win a certain period of time or driving while a license is revoked due to some other impaired driving offense.   May have a child in the car, may have a wreck where there’s serious bodily injury. The categories are general and then they’ve added a bunch of specifics within the four general, broad categories.

They’ve also changed the levels to include an additional sixth level of punishment to, for example, if you have a child under the age of 18 in a vehicle. That puts you to the front of the line so you’re automatically a level one. It’s kind of a super grossly aggravating factor, which mandates a loss of license and mandates possibility of some jail and probation. It’s pretty complicated.

There are more areas than just the child. If someone has a person in the car with a mental disability or is psychologically the age of someone under the age of 18, or someone’s in the vehicle that has a handicap or disability where they can’t get out of the vehicle, as you can probably see, there’s more and more and more layers of this and they’re being changed regularly. It’s complicated. It’s developing.

It’s something that changes and it’s not the same here as it may have been for your uncle’s case in Tennessee or Florida.

Give us a ring. That’s what we do.

We help people understand very complicated, very intricate laws, specifically as it pertains to driving while impaired.

We hope to hear from you.

Bill Powers

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