The Cost of a DWI in the Tar Heel State
Charlotte, Asheville, Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington and all other cities in the state of North Carolina have the same rules when it comes to drinking and driving. Those drivers who are tested and have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher will be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). North Carolina DWI has a number of penalties associated with DWI convictions, and among these penalties are a number of financial repercussions that can be hard to recover from.
What Penalties Will I Face for DWI in North Carolina?
In the state of North Carolina, drinking and driving is referred to as Driving While Intoxicated, which is essentially the same charge as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in other states. Just like other states, North Carolina has a set of fines and penalties that are associated with being convicted of DWI, which includes jail time, fines, and even a license suspension. For first time DWI offenders, the penalties include, but are not limited to:
- Minimum Jail Sentence of 24 Hours
- $200 Fine
- License Suspension Between 60 Days and 1 Year
It is important to note that North Carolina considers other factors of the DWI to determine the level of offender individuals are, which directly impacts how their penalties are addressed. For example, the penalties outlined here are for Level 5 Offenders only. Should they be classified as Level 1A offenders, which means they have three aggravated factors associated with their case, they will face a minimum of 12 months in jail instead of the 24 hours outlined above.
Additionally, the number of previous offenses they have also plays a role in the fines and penalties they will face. Those who are considered Level 5 offenders and also have a DWI conviction within the last 7 years will face harsher penalties, generally the ones outlined below:
- Minimum Jail Sentence of 4 Days
- Fines Will Vary Depending on Offender Level
- License Suspension Between 1 Year and 4 Years
How Much Will I Pay for DWI Before I am Convicted?
In most cases, offenders only consider the fines they will face upon conviction as their financial repercussions for being found guilty of DWI. What many do not know is that the cost of DWI goes beyond the fines used for punishment. First, when they are pulled over and arrested for DWI, their vehicles will be towed to a local impound lot unless the arresting officer allows a friend or family member to come retrieve the vehicle at the scene. The cost of towing the vehicle from the scene and storing it at the impound facility is be charged to the offenders when they retrieve their cars.
In many DWI cases, offenders are taken to jail, allowed to sober up and are then released after being assigned a court date. But, should there be aggravating circumstances associated with the arrest, offenders may be booked into the jail and have bail set, which means the bail will need to be paid in order for them to be released. Bail for a DWI charge varies based on the severity of the crime and more often than not the individual needs the help of family members, friends or a bail bondsman in order to pay the required amount of money to be released from jail pending their court date.
Once the court date has been set it is only in the best interest of the accused to seek the legal help of an attorney or lawyer who is well-versed in drunk driving laws in the state of North Carolina. Whether he or she works with an independent professional or a law firm, there is a cost associated with hiring that professional to try the accused’s case in court. Generally, the cost of a good lawyer will range between $1,000 and $15,000 – some may offer payments plans or even not charge their client unless he or she wins the case. Either way, the lawyer needs to be paid, adding to the offender’s overall DWI expenses.
How Much Will I Pay for DWI after I am Convicted?
Should offenders be found guilty of DWI after they have had their day or days in court, they then have to deal with the fines and penalties outlined above. It is important to note that although those are the penalties used by the state of North Carolina, those penalties are not the same for every state in the country. Each state has its own own set of fines and penalties that are used for DUI or DWI convictions, but generally the severity of these penalties increase when the individual has previous DUI or DWI offenses.
Will My Car Insurance Be Affected by a DWI Conviction?
Having a DWI conviction on one’s driving record will automatically cause their car insurance rates to increase, regardless of which state their insurance is out of or which insurance provider they are using. While their insurance is 100 percent likely to increase, how much it increases depends on the insurance provider and its specific method for handling policy holders with DWI convictions. Additionally, the level of increase will vary between states depending on the state laws.
Keeping in mind that the rate of increase varies between states as well as between insurance providers, it is possible to predict the average increase DWI offenders will see in their car insurance rates. North Carolina is among the harshest of states when it comes to penalizing those with DWI convictions – policy holders can see their rates increase by about 275 percent, which will generally add an average of $155 to their monthly payment. While this is among the highest of increases, it will also vary depending on which car insurance providers the individuals are currently working with.
Can I Avoid the Cost of DWI?
Yes – it is possible to avoid the high cost of DWI by not drinking and driving. In the worst case scenario, offenders of DWI will pay about $40,000 for an easily avoidable mistake, without taking into account any lost wages or having to pay for public transportation. Drinking and driving is not only financially costly but also very dangerous and doing so poses a threat to drivers, their passengers, and anyone else who is on the road around them. Avoid the high cost of DWI by drinking responsibly and never getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.