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Possible Charges and Penalties in a DWI Fatality Case

On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Charlotte DWI Attorney, Charlotte DWI Lawyer, DUI/DWI, DWI on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Possible Charges and Penalties in a DWI Fatality Case

If you or a loved one are accused of causing another person’s death in a drunk driving crash, contact an experienced Charlotte criminal lawyer right away. A suspected DWI fatality is taken very seriously in North Carolina. You can expect the police to charge you or your relative with the harshest felony available.

Do not assume you will be found guilty and charged with the harshest penalty possible, though. There are ways to defend yourself against DWI and vehicular homicide charges. There also are ways to mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction.

To obtain the best possible outcome in your circumstances, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (980) 237-4579. You also can use our online form to send us your information and request a free initial consultation.

Level One DWI

In North Carolina, DWIs are charged and sentenced based on the level of the offense. The lowest is level five, and the highest is an aggravated level one DWI.

The police can charge you with a level one DWI if there was a minor in the car at the time of the offense or if there are two grossly aggravating factors present in your case. The police can also charge you with an aggravated level one DWI if there are three or more grossly aggravating factors in your case.

Grossly aggravating factors include:

  • Previous DWI(s) on your record
  • Seriously injuring another person during the DWI accident
  • Driving while your license is revoked due to an impaired driving offense
  • Driving with a child under 18 years old, a person with the mental development of a minor, or a person with a physical disability who could not exit the vehicle unaided with at the time of the offense.

Penalties for a Level One DWI

Sentencing for a level one DWI can be found in North Carolina General Statutes §20-179(g). If convicted of a level one DWI, you can be fined up to $4,000 and jailed for between 30 days and 24 months. Your prison term can be suspended if the judge imposes a condition of special probation that requires you to serve at least 30 days.

The judge can suspend the sentence down to 10 days if a condition of special probation requires you to abstain from alcohol consumption and undergo continuous alcohol monitoring for at least 120 days. If you receive probation, the judge must impose a requirement that you undergo a substance abuse assessment, and when necessary, education and treatment before you can restore your license.

Penalties for an Aggravated Level One DWI

North Carolina General Statutes §20-179(f3) outlines penalties for an aggravated level one DWI. If you are convicted of an aggravated level one DWI, you can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for between 12 and 36 months with no eligibility for parole. You can be released four months early, however, if you agree to abstain from alcohol for the four-month period and undergo continuous alcohol monitoring.

The judge can suspend your sentence if a condition of special probation is that you must serve at least 120 days. The judge must require that you abstain from alcohol from at least 120 days up to the maximum term of probation and undergo continuous alcohol monitoring. You also must obtain a substance abuse assessment, and when required, education and treatment in order to restore your license.

Felony Death by Vehicle

Under North Carolina General Statute §20-141.4(a1), you can be charged with felony death by vehicle if you unintentionally cause the death of another person while engaged in the offense of impaired driving and the DWI offense is the proximate cause of the other person’s death.

North Carolina General Statute §20-141.4(a5) dictates aggravated felony death by vehicle occurs when you unintentionally cause another person’s death while engaged in impaired driving, the DWI was the proximate cause of the person’s death, and you were previously convicted of an impaired driving offense within the past seven years.

Penalties for Felony Death by Vehicles

Felony death by vehicle is a Class D felony. To be sentenced in North Carolina, the judge takes into consideration the level of the offense and your prior record level (I-VI). For each combination of offense class and prior record level is a presumptive range of punishment as well as mitigated and aggravated ranges.

For a Class D felony, the potential penalties are:








Aggravated Range







Presumptive Range







Mitigated Range







If you are a prior record level I offender, the court is allowed to use the intermediate punishment instead of the aggravated punishment.

Penalties for Aggravated Felony Death by Vehicle

Aggravated felony death by vehicle is a Class D felony, and the court must sentence the defendant in the aggravated range of the appropriate prior record level.

Are You Accused of Causing a DWI Fatality?

Right now, everything may seem like a nightmare. One mistake or error in judgment could have you or a loved one facing felony criminal charges. The best way to handle these difficult circumstances is to work with a highly experienced and successful Charlotte criminal defense attorney at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Please do not hesitate to contact us through our online form or call (980) 237-4579 to schedule your free consultation.