Young Child in the Back Seat of a Car After the Driver Has Been Arrested for DWIDWI is punished harshly in North Carolina and can have long-term consequences in your life. However, your sentence can be even more severe if you are arrested for DWI with a child present in your motor vehicle.

Enhanced Penalties You May Face for DWI With a Child Present in Your Vehicle

In 2011, “Laura’s Law” was signed into law. It was named after Laura Fortenberry, a 17-year-old teen killed in 2010 in an accident with a drunk driver who had been convicted of DWI three times in the past. Under this law, there are increased fines and penalties for subsequent DWI convictions and more severe penalties when a child is in the vehicle of a person arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Driving while intoxicated with a child present is considered a grossly aggravating factor that will automatically result in the second harshest level of punishment, which is a Level One punishment. Three types of passengers can result in these enhanced penalties:

  • Child under 18 years old
  • Individual with the mental capacity of a child under 18 years old
  • Individual with a physical disability that would prevent him from leaving the vehicle at the time the driver was intoxicated

If convicted of DWI, a person can face these Level One punishments:

  • A minimum jail sentence of 30 days up to a maximum of two years
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • Driver’s license suspension of one year with no possibility of restricted driving privileges

Have You Been Arrested for a DWI in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing DWI charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


C. Todd Browning
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer