Recent Changes to NC DWI Law

Recent (2011) changes to NC DWI law include:

  1. NCGA created (“Laura’s Law”) a new DWI sentencing level – “Aggravated Level One” – which applies to all DWIs (offenses committed as of December 2011) – where there are three or more grossly aggravating factors (although see below for changes to how Minor in Car are handled). Minimum of 120 days in custody (special condition of probation). 12 months to 36 months in prison if sentence activated, with effective sentence being 4 months shy of the maximum imposed term, with those 4 months being on Post-Supervision Release plus abstain from alcohol as measured by an alcohol monitoring device. Up to $10,000 in fines.

  2. Grossly Aggravating Factor change – Prior to December 1, 2011, it’s a grossly aggravating factor to DWI with a minor under the age of 16. As of December 1, 2011, it’s a grossly aggravating factor REQUIRING IMPOSITION OF LEVEL 1 if the person drives with a minor under the age of 18. (Does this mean that if the person would otherwise be an Aggravated Level One, they would be given the lesser punishment of Level 1 if one of the aggravators was a Minor Child? Seems to read that way. Also, seems to suggest that no matter how many minor children are in the car, it would be a Level 1. Finally, this will particularly affect teenage drivers who may have friends in the car.)

  3. New Pretrial Condition – A magistrate may impose the condition that a DWI defendant abstain from alcohol as monitored by a continuous monitoring device if the DWI defendant had a prior DWI conviction with 7 years of the new offense.

  4. A judge may impose the condition that the person abstain from alcohol consumption as monitored by a continuous monitoring device for the entire length of probation (used to be time-limited).

  5. Costs of the continuous monitoring device must be borne by the offender.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.