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The consequences for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina are serious, and things only get worse with second, third, and subsequent offenses. If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of a second offense DWI in NC, the stakes and potential penalties are automatically raised. Prior DWI convictions will have a serious impact on your sentencing because each prior offense counts as a grossly aggravating factor in your current case.

For help with your second or third offense DUI, call a Charlotte DWI lawyer from Randall & Stump PLLC at (980) 237-4579 or reach out through our online form to schedule a free, initial case consultation.

DWI Laws in North Carolina

Per North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance; after having consumed enough alcohol to put yourself over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit; and/or if you have any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body.

BAC limits in the North Carolina are:

  • For those 21 and over – .08
  • CDL drivers driving a commercial vehicle – .04
  • For those under 21 – .00

Certain Factors Will Affect Your Second or Third Offense DWI

When you are charged with driving under the influence in North Carolina, there are a number of factors that will impact how you will be punished for a second or third DWI. These include:

Grossly Aggravating Factors

These are serious aspects of your case that will work against you, potentially heightening your offense to a Level 2, Level 1, or Aggravated Level 1 DWI.

  • There was a minor in the vehicle at the time of your offense
  • You have a previous DWI on your record within the past seven years
  • You seriously injured another person during your offense
  • You have a prior conviction for driving with a revoked license (that was taken due to a drunk driving offense

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors in your case, though not as serious as grossly aggravating factors, will result in you being charged with a higher-level offense.

  • Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident
  • You had a high BAC of .15 or higher
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • You attempted to elude law enforcement by speeding

Mitigating Factors

These elements actually work in your favor. If no grossly aggravating factors are present in your case, a judge can use these to reduce the level of sentencing for your DWI charge, if convicted.

  • Your impairment was due to a prescription medication
  • Your driving record over the past five years is clean
  • Your BAC at the time of your stop was not above .09 (if you are at least 21 years old)
  • Voluntary submission to a DWI Assessment after being charged and, if recommended, participation in the recommended treatment
  • You voluntarily participate in an alcohol and/or drug treatment program

If you are facing a second offense DWI in Charlotte, it’s important to discuss with your lawyer if any of the above factors are relevant to your situation. An attorney from Randall & Stump, PLLC will look at the facts and will determine if any of the mitigating factors may help minimize the penalties you face or how to defend against any aggravating elements that may apply.

What Penalties Do You Face for 2nd and 3rd DWIs in NC

DWI crimes are charged on a scale in North Carolina. This means that the number of grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors present in your case will determine which level of DWI Sentencing you will face, if convicted.

Aggravated Level One DWI

If there are three or more grossly aggravating factors present in your second offense DWI in Charlotte, then you will be charged with an aggravated level one DWI.

Penalties for an aggravated level one DWI offense include:

  • Fines reaching $10,000
  • One to three years in jail (with no possibility of parole)
  • If the sentence is suspended, you will be required to serve at least 120 days in jail and undergo 120 days of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM)

Level One DWI

You face level one DWI punishment for a second or third DWI if there was a minor and/or disabled person in your vehicle at the time of your offense, or if two of the other grossly aggravating factors are present in your case.

Penalties for a level one DWI misdemeanor are:

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • 30 days to two years in jail

Level Two DWI

If no minor was in your car at the time of your DWI, and if only one other grossly aggravating factor is present, you will face a level two DWI punishment.

Punishments for a level two DWI offense include:

  • Fines reaching $2,000
  • Seven days to one year in jail

Level Three DWI

Level three DWI punishment is imposed in DWI cases when no grossly aggravating factors are present, but when aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors.

If found guilty of a level three DWI, for a second offense DWI in NC, you face the following penalties:

  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Three days to six months in jail
  • If the term of imprisonment is suspended, you will be required to perform at least 72 hours of community service and serve 12 months of probation

Level Four DWI

If there are no aggravating or mitigating factors present in your case, or if aggravating factors are balanced with mitigating ones, you will face level four DWI punishment for your DWI charge.

Punishments for a level four DWI offense include:

  • Fines reaching $500
  • Two to 120 days in jail
  • If the term of imprisonment is suspended, you will be required to perform at least 48 hours of community service and serve 12 months of probation

Level Five DWI

If the mitigating factors in your case outweigh the aggravating factors, then a judge will sentence you to a level five DWI misdemeanor.

Penalties for a level five DWI offense are as follows:

  • Fines of up to $200
  • One to 60 days in jail
  • If the term of imprisonment is suspended, you will be required to perform at least 24 hours of community service and serve 12 months of probation

In addition to jail time and fines, if you’re found guilty of a second or third DWI in North Carolina, you face a number of collateral consequences. Such penalties include increased insurance rates, suspension of your driver’s license, installation of an ignition interlock device, inability to obtain or maintain certain professional licenses, immigration issues, and more.

If you’ve been charged with a second offense DWI in NC, or if you’re facing charges for a third or subsequent DWI offense, it’s important to work with your attorney so that you can remain informed of any of the above factors that may affect your case and any legal challenges that may exist to fight your charges.

Defenses Available for Your DWI Case

When you face the life-changing consequences that follow an arrest for a second or third DWI, it is important that you hire an experienced Charlotte DWI lawyer. The attorneys of Randall & Stump, PLLC will explore and exhaust every defense available in your case, including:

  • The legality of the traffic stop
  • Whether there was probable cause for an arrest
  • How the breath test machine was maintained and operated
  • Whether the arresting officer was certified to use the breath test machine
  • The procedures that were used to draw your blood

It is important that you don’t lose hope simply because you were charged. Rather, you should put yourself in the best position by hiring an attorney, who will fight vigorously to defend your rights.

Call an Attorney for Help with Your Second offense DWI in NC

When you’re arrested for DWI in North Carolina, you’re likely dealing with several concerns. What would a conviction mean for your employment? What about custody of your children? Will you be able to retain your driver’s license and other professional certifications? As these questions run through your mind, let a Charlotte DWI attorney from Randall & Stump, PLLC handle your defense. With over 25 years of combined legal experience and with a member of our firm, certified with the National College of DUI Defense, we have assisted countless individuals to face charges of second offense DWI in NC and know what it takes to protect your freedom and future.

Contact us today at (980) 237-4579 for a free, initial evaluation of your case.