When you think of why you should not drink and drive, what pops into your head? Safety? The fatality rate of drunk driving accidents? The embarrassment of getting caught? You might think about the time and effort that it takes to handle a DWI charge or conviction: attending a hearing, getting your license restored, finding a new ride to work, and so on.
But there is also another reason to call a cab or get a ride if you’ve been drinking: money. Not only is DWI dangerous, getting caught is extremely expensive.
Below, we’ve laid out the charges and costs of a first DWI in North Carolina. Trust us – it’s higher than you think.
How DUI Charges Work in Our State
North Carolina has five levels of DUI charges. Your BAC, any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, your driving record, and any damage caused by your driving will all affect the level at which you are charged. Each level has different sentencing guidelines:
Level V – Fines up to $200, between 24 hours and 60 days in prison OR 24 hours in prison, 24 hours of community service, and license revocation for 30 days
Level IV – Fines up to $500, between 48 hours and 120 days in prison OR 48 hours in prison, 48 hours of community service, and license revocation for 60 days
Level III – Fines up to $1,000, between 72 hours and six months in prison OR 72 hours in prison, 72 hours of community service, license revocation for 90 days
Level II – Fines up to $2,000, between seven days and one year in prison
Level I – Fines up to $4,000, between 30 days and two years in prison
There are different penalties for drivers who are caught driving while impaired who are under the age of 21 and others. In the case of underage drivers, commercial truck drivers, school bus drivers, and day care vehicle drivers, North Carolina has a “zero tolerance law.”
Understanding the Costs Associated with DWI Penalties
While your sentence may vary, there are always multiple costs that go along with a DUI charge and conviction.
Court Costs – These total around $190.
Fees and Incarceration – If you are convicted of DWI, you face fines of between $200 and $4,000. And aggravated Level I felonies come with a fine of up to $10,000. As we mentioned earlier, the severity of your penalty depends on the level at which you were convicted.
Losing Your License – If you have been charged with DWI, you might have already felt the sting of your license being revoked. All drivers’ licenses are revoked immediately after a chemical test shows results of .08 BAC or higher.
Not having a license is bad enough, but there are also monetary costs: a $100 pretrial driver license revocation fee, a $100 limited driving privilege fee, and an $100 driver license restoration fee. On top of that, think about the costs associated with finding a new ride to work, storing your car, or taking public transportation everywhere. Adds up quick, right?
Classes or Community Service – In addition to (or in lieu of) jail and incarceration, you may also be required to take certain classes on alcohol education, as well as completing community service.
Substance abuse treatment and ADET school have associated costs of around $260. If you must complete community service hours, you usually face associated fees of $250. For individuals who are placed on probation, you will face substance abuse assessments, which have associated costs up to $100.
Additional Costs – Even after you have served your sentence, a DWI conviction has consequences that will follow you for a long time. Having a DUI convictions on your record can make it harder to get into college, join the military, find housing, and even get a job. In fact, some actually people lose their jobs over DWI convictions.
These are things that have incalculable costs, but can easily soar into the tens of thousands of dollars – if not higher. Moreover, one of the reasons people lose their jobs after being convicted of DWI is the skyrocketing cost of insurance. Premiums can increase up to 400%!
As you can see, getting convicted of a DUI is truly expensive. Even without thinking about the “what-ifs” of not getting a higher-paying job or being able to serve in the armed services, having a DUI conviction on your record can cost you thousands of dollars.
If you want to protect both your future and your bank account, you have to fight back with a strong defense. Hiring a skilled attorney gives you the best chance at having your charges and penalties reduced or dropped altogether. Reach out to us as soon as possible to start crafting your defense strategy.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.