2024 How Much Does A DUI Cost in North Carolina?

2024 How Much Does A DUI Cost in North Carolina?

Jul 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense,Traffic Violations

One of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in the United States is driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, also referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you are charged with this offense, it is natural to worry about the penalties you could face if you are convicted. While most people are aware of the fact that they face a fine for a DWI conviction, the reality is that the total cost can be much more.

An experienced DUI attorney in Hickory, NC, is an invaluable asset if you or a loved one is charged with DUI. You have the right to legal representation when you are charged with any crime, and the right defense attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, including potentially reducing your penalty if convicted.

Understanding the Cost of a DWI/DUI Conviction

North Carolina, like most other states, assigns penalties for a DWI violation based on multiple factors. Specifically, the defendant’s record of past DWI convictions and the severity of any harm done to others are the most important factors when it comes to DWI sentencing. Potential penalties for conviction can include:

  • Fines. If a defendant is convicted of DUI/DWI, they must pay a fine, and the amount of the fine depends on the level of the offense and other factors. Fines can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for most defendants.
  • Driver’s license suspension. A defendant will have their driving privileges temporarily revoked as a consequence of a DWI violation. The length of the suspension is determined by the level of the offense and the sentencing judge’s discretion.
  • Jail time. It’s possible for a DWI defendant to face time in jail for their conviction, and jail time may extend from a few days to several years based on the severity of the offense.
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol treatment. When a defendant presents with a substance abuse disorder, the sentencing judge may recognize the need for medical intervention and require them to complete a treatment program as an element of their sentence. Most defendants will face the cost of enrollment out of their own pockets.
  • Court fees. Another financial impact of a DWI conviction will be paying court fees. The amount that must be paid in court fees will depend on several factors.
  • Insurance premium increases. While not assigned by the court, another penalty for a DWI conviction can be an increase in automobile insurance premiums. If a defendant’s insurance carrier deems them to be a greater risk because of their offense, the company may raise their premium amount substantially.

Ultimately, the total financial impact of a DWI conviction can be difficult to estimate at first. Whenever an individual is charged with a crime, they have the right to legal representation, and a defense attorney can help their client minimize their penalties for conviction in some cases. It is vital to reach out to experienced defense counsel you can trust if you have been charged with DWI; the sooner you contact an attorney, the more time they have to build an effective defense on your behalf.


Q: How Much Are DWI Fines?

A: Fines and all other penalties assigned to defendants convicted of DWI in the state work on a sliding scale, increasing to reflect the severity of an offense and a defendant’s prior criminal record. Fines for a DWI conviction can be as low as $100 for a first offense that did not result in significant property damage or injury, and they may go as high as several thousand dollars if a defendant caused bodily harm or death and/or they have a history of prior DWI convictions.

Q: What Is the Difference Between DWI and DUI?

A: “DWI” is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated,” while “DUI” is an acronym for “driving under the influence.” While some states break down specific definitions, in North Carolina, these two terms are essentially interchangeable. State law does not make a firm distinction between a DUI and a DWI offense. However, for the purposes of navigating state law, most state laws use DWI and associated terminology in describing this offense.

Q: What Is the Minimum Penalty for DWI?

A: North Carolina law arranges DWI offenses on a scale based on severity, with level five being the lowest level. The penalties for conviction of a level five DWI offense generally include a fine of at least $100, a driver’s license suspension of at least 30 days, probation for up to three years, and jail time up to 60 days. However, as long as the defendant does not have any aggravating factors in their case, they could avoid jail time for a first offense by completing community service or accepting other alternative penalties.

Q: Can a DWI Charge Be Reduced?

A: Some states allow first-time DWI or DUI charges to be reduced to wet reckless violations in very specific circumstances. However, North Carolina law does not allow a DWI charge to be reduced in any way. If you are charged with DWI, you face a host of possible penalties, and you will need a good defense attorney on your side to minimize your total penalty as much as possible.

Q: How Can I Avoid Jail Time for a DUI?

A: If you are charged with DUI, it is natural to worry about spending time behind bars. However, first offenders are not always assigned jail time as part of sentencing, especially if they did not cause severe property damage, bodily injury, or death. Your defense attorney must review the details of your case to help determine your most viable options for reducing penalties, including jail time.

The right DUI defense attorney is a tremendous asset when you are facing penalties for a conviction in Catawba, Burke, or Caldwell County. The team at Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, can provide the legal advocacy you need in this challenging situation, so contact us today and find out more about the legal services we offer to those charged with DUI.