Despite the fact that North Carolina is among the strictest states when it comes to penalties for alcohol-related driving offenses, many still see driving while impaired as a minor offense that they do not need to fear or take seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Not only is driving while impaired a dangerous choice for you and others on the road, but it also opens you to significant penalties if a court convicts you of the charge.
Additionally, certain factors can take a misdemeanor DWI charge and raise it to a more serious felony status. A felony DWI conviction includes penalties that can have long-term ramifications for you and your family. Moreover, the mark on your record will remain indefinitely, potentially causing hardships and struggles for years to come in many areas of your life.
Severe penalties for conviction
Misdemeanor DWI penalties are tough enough and include the potential for hundreds in fines and fees, jail time and ignition interlock in your vehicle for a period of time. You will also likely pay significantly higher insurance premiums if you are able to find a company to cover you. After your third conviction within 10 years, however, the state considers you a habitual offender, and the next offense becomes a felony. A conviction for felony DWI may include the following penalties:
- Thousands in fines
- A mandatory minimum of one year in jail with no time suspended
- Mandatory substance abuse treatment program
- Ignition interlock system in your vehicle for several years
- The loss of your driving privileges, perhaps permanently
What is shocking to many who face these possibilities is that the state can also confiscate the vehicle of anyone arrested for DWI who is already under suspension from driving for previous drunk driving convictions. Authorities may seize your vehicle and, if a court convicts you, turn it over to the school board to sell and divide the profits among the counties’ schools. This may happen more often than you think, especially for drivers who do not take a DWI seriously.
If you are facing a DWI charge, whether it is a first offense or felony habitual DWI, you have a lot on the line. The evidence against you may not be as strong as police make you believe, and a skilled attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on the most appropriate course of action.