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Most people don’t realize that DWI/Impaired Driving sentencing in North Carolina falls outside the normal sentencing rules for all other offenses. There are 6 different levels of DWI for sentencing purposes: Level 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and Aggravated Level 1. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but Level 5 is the least severe for punishment purposes and Level 1 (or A1) is the most severe. Although it can vary by jurisdiction and judge, most people convicted of a Level 3, 4 or 5 DWI will not be subjected to jail time unless they violate the terms of their probation. Also, a person sentenced at Level 3, 4 or 5 has a good chance of getting a limited driving privilege to help them get to work and school. A person sentenced as a Level A1, 1 or 2 is looking a mandatory period in jail; however, certain forms of inpatient substance abuse treatment may be used to offset the mandatory period of incarceration.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for DWI sentencing—beyond this it gets pretty complicated. There’s all sorts of information out there and some of it is just wrong. So, if you are charged with a DWI in North Carolina you should consult with an attorney within the first 7 days after you are charged.

Marc Tyrey