Understanding felony and misdemeanor DUI in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Driving under the influence in North Carolina is a serious offense with severe consequences.

The courts categorize DUI charges into two types, felonies and misdemeanors, depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense. Understanding the differences between felony and misdemeanor DUI charges can help you comprehend the potential consequences and the gravity of the situation.

Misdemeanor DUI charges

In North Carolina, a first-time or low-level DUI offense typically results in a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanor DUI charges are further categorized into five levels, with Level I being the most severe and Level V being the least severe. The court considers several factors when determining the level of a misdemeanor DUI charge, including blood alcohol content, prior DUI convictions and the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

Consequences of a misdemeanor DUI conviction can include fines, probation, community service, substance abuse education and the loss of driving privileges. Additionally, convicted individuals may face jail time, with sentences ranging from 24 hours to two years, depending on the level of the misdemeanor.

Felony DUI charges

A DUI charge becomes a felony in North Carolina when certain circumstances elevate the seriousness of the offense. A person with three or more prior DUI convictions within seven years faces a felony DUI charge as a “habitual impaired driver. If a DUI results in the serious injury or death of another person, the impaired driver may also face a felony DUI charge.

Felony DUI convictions carry more severe consequences than misdemeanor DUI convictions. These can include substantial fines, lengthy prison sentences, mandatory substance abuse treatment programs, and the permanent revocation of driving privileges.

Both felony and misdemeanor DUI charges in North Carolina come with serious consequences that can significantly impact an individual’s life. Being aware of the potential consequences and the gravity of the situation can help individuals make informed decisions about their cases and the steps they need to take to protect their rights.