What factors can increase DWI penalties?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

In a previous blog post, we discussed the effect that aggravating factors can have on criminal charges, especially when it comes to violent crimes. These factors can significantly increase the charges themselves as well as the penalties.

There are unique aggravating factors for DWI charges as well. We will take a look at some of the overarching issues that can impact DWI charges.

4 things that can increase DWI risks

A DWI is already a serious charge in North Carolina. Individuals should not take even misdemeanor DWI charges lightly. Convictions can stay on your record for years, and leave you facing fines of $200 and 24 hours in jail – at the lowest level.

Aggravating factors can significantly increase those penalties. Individuals could face such increased penalties if they:

  • Have previous DWIs: The penalties of a DWI can increase sharply if individuals have previous offenses on their record. Fines can jump up to nearly $4,000 with a maximum jail sentence of two years.
  • Ingested significant amounts of alcohol: The legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% in North Carolina. If a driver’s BAC is considerably higher than that when police conduct breath or other chemical tests, they could be at risk of facing higher penalties.
  • Drive recklessly: The reason driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law is that alcohol can directly impact one’s ability to drive. If drivers speed excessively, break other traffic laws or perhaps get into an accident, the penalties for a DWI can also increase. Note: If a drunk driving accident results in the death of another driver or pedestrian, individuals could face many more criminal charges in addition to a DWI.
  • Have children in the car: The courts, prosecutors and law enforcement consider driving drunk with a child in the car to be a form of child endangerment. Therefore, this can impact the severity of DWI charges.

In many cases, getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol is a misjudgment. However, many internal and external factors can turn that moment of misjudgment into a serious risk to your future.