DWI Convictions & Driver’s License Revocation in NC

Even if it is your first offense, your driver’s license will be revoked when you are arrested for driving while impaired in North Carolina. There are specific actions that must be taken to obtain the use of your driver’s license after a DWI charge, and Cotton Law Firm is here to explain them. 

If you are in Fayetteville, Durham, or the Lumberton, NC, area, consider contacting Cotton Law Firm as your dedicated traffic attorney.

What Are the Levels of DWI Convictions?

The North Carolina legal system imposes five DWI conviction levels, with the consequential punishment varying at each level. The most common reason for a drinking while impaired charge is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher (standard driver), 0.04% BAC (truck driver), or any detectable amount of alcohol for an underage driver. It is also important to note that if you refuse to take the breathalyzer chemical analysis, that is automatically one-year revocation of your license.

Aggravated Level 1 (A1) DWI: The Most Severe

An Aggravated Level 1 (A1) DWI is the most severe level of punishment for DWI convictions in North Carolina. An A1 DWI is imposed if there are three or more grossly aggravating factors. The most common grossly aggravating factors include being convicted of a DWI within the past seven years and driving with a license revoked for an impaired driving offense. The penalty for this charge consists of a maximum term of a three-year active sentence with a minimum sentence of one year.

Level 1 DWI

A Level 1 DWI is among the most severe sentences. If the Judge finds two aggravating factors are present, an individual may receive a Level 1 DWI punishment. The consequence for this charge is a minimum of 30 days of confinement, with a maximum term of 24 months, and up to $4,000 in fines.

Level 2 DWI

A Level 2 DWI conviction is among the most severe punishments an individual may receive after impaired driving. This conviction occurs if the Judge determines the defendant guilty of one grossly aggravating factor present. The consequence for this charge is punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of one week to a maximum of one year.

Level 3 DWI

A Level 3 DWI charge may occur if the aggravating factors, for example, a prior DWI conviction, driving on a revoked license, or seriously injuring someone, outweigh the mitigating factors. Penalties for this charge include 72 hours to six months imprisonment and fines up to $1,000.

Level 4 DWI

A Level 4 DWI may occur if mitigating circumstances counterbalance aggravating factors. Mitigating factors include slight impairment, a safe driving record, safe and lawful driving, no prior convictions, impairment from a prescribed drug, and more. 

The consequences of a Level 4 DWI may include 28 hours to 120 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, a substance abuse assessment, and driver’s license revocation from one to four years.

Level 5 DWI: The Lowest Level

A Level 5 DWI is the least severe DWI one can be charged with; however, it still has significant consequences. This charge occurs when the driver does have too much alcohol in their system or is impaired from a prescribed drug to operate a vehicle; however, the incident did not result in any aggravating factors. 

The penalties for this conviction in North Carolina include driver’s license suspension for one year, a minimum of 24 hours in jail, or 24 hours of community service, probation, and a mandatory substance abuse assessment.

How Long Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended?

The length of suspension or revocation is determined based on the degree of the offense. If it is your first offense, the license will be suspended for one year. A second offense will garner four years without a license. A third or subsequent offense will result in the permanent revocation of your license.

What Are the Steps to Take To Restore a License?

After a DWI conviction, you may get your license back if it is your first or second offense. However, it is essential to note that your driver’s license isn’t automatically reinstated once the revocation has been lifted. You must apply to the NC DMV to reinstate your license and pay a license restoration fee of 140$. Don’t get another offense because of irresponsibility. 

What Are Limited Driving Privileges?

In some instances (and with an expert criminal defense attorney), you may petition the court to allow for limited driver’s license privileges to be reinstated. Limited driving privileges typically enable you to drive to and from work, church, school, and medical appointments between dawn and dusk. Multiple factors may make you eligible for a restricted driver’s license, including:

  • You have not held a restricted or suspended license within the past three years
  • You are facing a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for refusal to take a blood test, but you were not charged with a DWI.
  • Your charge was a Level 3, 4, or 5 DWI

Schedule a Consultation With a DWI Lawyer in NC

If you have been convicted of a DWI and are facing driver’s license revocation in North Carolina, you can take steps towards achieving driving privileges. Your first step is to contact an effective, knowledgeable, and experienced traffic attorney. Contact Cotton Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.