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Penalties for DWI with a Minor in the Car

On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in DUI/DWI, DWI on Thursday, February 14, 2019

DWI with a minor in the car

DWI charges are always serious since a conviction for a first-time offense can result in jail time. However, many people quickly find themselves inadvertently facing very severe penalties because they were charged with DWI with a minor in the car. If you’re facing charges such as these, don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution. The Charlotte DWI lawyers at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys can help.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case, contact us today at (980) 237-4579.

Basic DWI Charges

To understand how serious it is to be charged with DWI with a minor in the car, it’s helpful to review the basic DWI charges:

1st Offense

  • Jail Sentence – 24 hours
  • Fines & Penalties – $200
  • License Suspension – Up to one year
  • Interlock Ignition Device – Required if BAC is 0.15 or higher

2nd Offense

  • Jail Sentence – Seven days
  • Fines & Penalties – Varies depending on various factors
  • License Suspension – Up to four years (if your prior DWI was within the last three years)
  • Interlock Ignition Device – Required

3rd Offense

  • Jail Sentence – 30 days
  • Fines & Penalties – Varies depending on various factors
  • License Suspension – Up to a lifetime suspension
  • Interlock Ignition Device – Required for seven years once your license is reinstated

These are the basic charges without any aggravating factors for a DWI. Examples of aggravating factors in North Carolina DWI cases are as follows:

  • You have prior DWI convictions.
  • You were driving on a suspended license at the time you were charged with DWI.
  • You were involved in an accident that caused serious injury to another person when you were charged with DWI.

These aggravating factors can trigger significantly harsher penalties in the form of longer suspensions, higher fines, and longer prison sentences.

How a Minor in the Vehicle Can Affect Your DWI Charges

In 2010, 17-year-old Laura Fortenberry was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver with multiple DWI convictions. This led to the adoption of “Laura’s Law,” which stiffened penalties for repeat offenders and for DWIs with a minor present.

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes § 20-179 (c)(4), having a minor in the vehicle at the time you are charged with DWI is a “grossly aggravating factor,” which will be taken into account at the sentencing stage if you are convicted. Having a minor in the vehicle automatically triggers harsh penalties for DWI, even when it is the first offense.

If convicted of DWI with a minor present in the car, you are facing the following possible penalties:

  • A minimum term of incarceration 30 days with a maximum of up to two years
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • A license suspension of one year

If You’re Under the Age of 21

If you’re charged with DWI and you’re under the age of 21, be aware that there is no minimum BAC to be convicted. North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving when it comes to people under the age of 21. As a result, any alcohol in your system can result in a DWI conviction. If you were driving with friends who are also under the age of 21, you could face the enhanced penalties of a Level One punishment.

Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers also face a reduced threshold for DWI – you can be charged with DWI with a BAC of .04 percent. If you’re charged with DWI while driving a passenger who is under the age of 18, you are now facing the enhanced penalties associated with DWI with a minor in the car.

Contact a Charlotte DWI Defense Attorney

If you’re facing DWI charges in Charlotte, do not hesitate to reach out to the criminal defense attorneys at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys. DWI charges, particularly those involving a minor in the vehicle, are serious. We provide aggressive, dedicated legal representation, and will fight to get you a fair result. Call us at (980) 237-4579, or reach out online to schedule a free case consultation.