Monday, July 20, 2015

When Does DWI Become a Felony?

Most traffic offenses are considered misdemeanors. Unlike crimes like drug trafficking, sex offenses, or burglary, which are given relatively longer imprisonment terms and heavy fines, misdemeanors have substantially less severe penalties. However, there are cases when a traffic offense, like DWI, can be charged as a felony.

How many past convictions have you had?
Previous DWI convictions can make a new DWI charge much more serious. In North Carolina, if you are charged with DWI and you’ve previously been convicted of DWI three or more times in the past 7 years, you will likely be charged with felony DWI. 

This could result in a minimum sentence of one year of imprisonment that cannot be suspended as well as a mandatory substance abuse program, which you need to successfully attend while incarcerated or while you’re on parole.

Other Consequences

Aside from the mandatory jail term, you will also lose your driving privileges. Unlike misdemeanor DWI convictions, your vehicle will be impounded the moment you are found driving with a license revoked from a previous DWI. You can only get the vehicle back if you prove that you’re innocent in court. Otherwise, you likely forfeit the car which will be sold at a police auction.

These potential consequences of any DWI make it important for a defendant to seek legal representation. A skilled DWI lawyer will analyze your case—from your arrest to the admission of evidence—and seek the best possible legal outcome for you.

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