The cost of a DUI anywhere is something that no one wants to go through, but in North Carolina, the fines involved can be steep and complicated. In the latter case, that’s because six different levels of sentencing exist for those convicted of the crime.
Mitigating vs. Aggravating
The punishment in this area is determined by the charge level, with the lower numbers being the more severe situation. Certain mitigating situations may involve the discretion of the presiding judge and could result in a smaller fine.
These include driving with less than a .09 blood alcohol level, a safe driving record, which is having less than four points on a driving record or safe driving at the time of being pulled over. In addition, the offense could be related to the driver’s use of properly-taken prescription drugs.
Finally, voluntarily undergoing a mental health assessment and complying with the recommended treatment or doing the same in relation to substance abuse is seen as a positive. In the latter case, wearing an alcohol monitoring device for a period of two months might be required.
When aggravating factors exist, the fines are much more severe. These include a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, dangerous or reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident or driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Others can relate to having multiple convictions where an individual was assessed three points or more in each case, failure to stop when being pursued, driving 30 miles or more above the speed limit and passing a school bus that’s stopped.
Below are the levels involved:
In Level Five, the fine can be up to $200, with a sentence from between one to 120 days. This sentence may be suspended, but will require community service or a substance abuse assessment.
At Level Four, the fine can reach $500, with a two to 120-day sentence possible. Sentence suspension with the same components as Level Five involved are possible.
In these first two levels, mitigating factors either dominate or balance out any aggravating factors.
With Level Three, the maximum fine doubles to $1,000, while the jail sentence can range from three days to six months. Once again, agreeing to community service or substance abuse counseling could result in a sentence suspension.
In this case, while there are no grossly aggravating factors involved, the aggravating factors are more prominent than any mitigating factors.
Those receiving Level Two punishment can be fined as much as $2,000, while also receiving from a week to a year in jail. In some cases, wearing an alcohol monitor while abstaining from alcohol or being assessed for substance abuse can result in probation.
Here, one of the following grossly aggravating factors is present: a previous DUI conviction (or convictions) within the past five years, driving with either a suspended or revoked license, or causing serious injury from the DUI. In addition, a driver with someone under the age of 18 or someone who is mentally or physically impaired in the car with them will be dealt with more harshly.
If the driver has been convicted of a DUI within the time span above, or is driving on a suspended or revoked license, receiving probation requires 240 hours of community service to be completed by the defendant.
When a Level One punishment is assessed, it can lead to a fine of as much as $4,000 and punishment of between 30 days to two years in jail. However, if the case is determined to an Aggravated Level One, the maximum fine could be as much as $10,000. In addition, the sentence will be from one to three years in jail, with no possibility of early release.
Difference Between the Level Ones
For a standard Level One case to go forth, a child under the age of 18 must have been in the car at the time of the arrest as well as two other aggravating factors. Regarding the Aggravated Level One, this is imposed if three of the aggravating factors are in evidence.
It’s clear that there’s a great deal of leeway when determining what type of fine might be assessed to those convicted of DUI in North Carolina. Contacting a DUI lawyer as quickly as possible after an arrest can help address these issues immediately.