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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Go to Jail for A DWI in North Carolina?

If you or a loved one are facing a DWI, you are probably asking yourself if the possibility of going to jail exists. If going through the arrest process, spending time at the county jail, waiting for your bond to be posted,  getting your vehicle back, and telling family and friends about the incident isn't already enough, you now are asking if you will go to jail for a DWI in North Carolina.

The punishment for a North Carolina DWI will vary from serving no jail time to substantial jail time. A number of the following factors will affect your sentencing:
* whether you have a prior dwi offense
* The breathalyzer or blood alcohol result
* If you had a child in your car under 16 years of age at the time you were arrested
* Your prior driving record
* If you have completed a substance abuse assessment

In North Carolina there are 5 levels of sentencing for a DWI. Depending on a number of factors, including those listed above, will dictate what level you are at and what punishment awaits you.
Level 5: 24 hours to 60 days in jail
Level 4: 48 hours to 120 days
Level 3: 72 hours to 6 months
Level 2: 7 days to 1 year
Level 1: 30 days to 2 years

Before you start to panic, there are many things that can be done to prevent you from going to jail. Many DWI cases are flawed. The District Attorney must proved each element beyond a reasonable doubt. Did the officer see you driving? Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you? Did the officers violate the 4th Amendment when they stopped you at the DWI checkpoint? Were the proper field sobriety tests given? Was the breath machine working properly? Did the District Attorney give you proper legal notice that they were going to admit your breath results at trial? These are only some of the questions that must be answered before a person considers admitting guilt to a DWI in North Carolina. Don't throw the towel in yet- there is a lot that can be done to make sure your rights are protected.

If you ultimately decide to admit guilt, it is important that you are prepared for sentencing. North Carolina has aggravating and mitigating factors that a judge must consider at sentencing. A mitigating factor, like a clean driving record for a period of time or obtaining a substance abuse assessment prior to sentencing, can help decrease your ultimate punishment. An attorney can ask that your jail time be 'suspended', meaning not imposed if you abide by your probation terms. If you have prior DWI's and are facing substantial jail time, an attorney can ask the judge to allow you to serve your jail time in a residential treatment facility where you can continue to work.

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