Is a Dwi a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense?

If you have found yourself facing a criminal charge, you are likely to have a lot of questions about what it all means and what consequences you may face if convicted. It is okay. You can get all of your questions answered. When it comes to DWI in particular, North Carolina lays it all out so that people know what to expect based on the type of charges filed against them.

For DWI, there are misdemeanor and felony charges possible. Misdemeanors are actually broken down into five different levels, whereas a felony charge is just in a category all its own. What are the different misdemeanor DWI levels? What would elevate a driving-while-impaired charge to a felony?

Misdemeanor DWI

As previously stated, there are five different levels of misdemeanor DWI charges. They are simply known as Level I though Level V -- Level I being the most serious and Level V being the least serious. To break it down:

  • Level V: If convicted at this level, consequences typically include a minimal fine and light jail term -- anywhere from 24 hours to 60 days. It is possible to keep the jail term to 24 hours if one agrees to community service and does not drive for 30 days.
  • Level IV: If convicted at this level, consequences are again a fine, and this time it could be up to $500, plus jail time -- anywhere from 48 hours to 120 days. Again, the jail term is limited if one agrees to community service and does not operate an automobile for 60 days.
  • Level III: If convicted at this level, penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of at least 72 hours, with the possibility of spending six months behind bars. One may avoid an extended jail term by completing 72 hours of community service and not driving for 90 days.
  • Level II: If convicted at this level, the max fine imposed is $2,000, and jail time may last anywhere form 30 days to two years.
  • Level I: If convicted at this level, the maximum fine possible is $4,000, and jail time may be anywhere from 30 days to two years.

A Level I or Level II DWI misdemeanor charge means you would have to have more than one DWI already on your record, been driving under the influence with children in your car, been driving on a suspended or revoked license or hurt someone in a collision.

Felony charges

Felony DWI charges are for those individuals who have three DWI convictions on their record in a seven-year period. If convicted, these individuals have to serve a one-year jail sentence and complete a rehabilitation program -- either while in jail or while on probation.

At the end of the day, whether you find yourself facing a misdemeanor or felony DWI, the consequences of either can affect your personal and professional life. Thankfully, you have the right to defend yourself in a North Carolina criminal court.

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