What factors will the court consider when sentencing me for a DUI conviction in Mecklenburg County?

If you have been convicted of DUI in Mecklenburg County, the level of punishment of you will face is determined by the existence and balancing of what are called grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, or mitigating factors. 

Grossly Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

Grossly aggravating factors are seen as more serious than aggravating factors. The State must prove any grossly aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. With that, the first step in determining the level of punishment you will face if convicted of DUI is to find out whether any grossly aggravating factors exist.

Four grossly aggravating factors:

  1. A prior conviction for a DUI related offense (See N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(24a) for the list of offenses) if:
    • the prior conviction occurred within seven years of the current DUI offense date;
    • the prior conviction occurred after the current DUI offense date, but before or at the same time as the sentencing in the current DUI case; or
    • the prior conviction was in District Court, the conviction was appealed to Superior Court, the appeal was withdrawn or the case was remanded back to District Court, and a new sentencing hearing for the case has not been held.
  2. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while your driver’s license was revoked and the revocation was for a DUI revocation under N.C.G.S. 20-28.2(a).
  3. Your DUI caused serious injury to another person.
  4. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while:
    • A child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle
    • A person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle; or
    • A person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle.

Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

As mentioned, aggravating factors are considered less serious than grossly aggravating factors. However, like grossly aggravating factors, the State must prove any aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are no grossly aggravating factors, or where grossly aggravating factors exist but the judge decides to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors as well, the next step in DUI sentencing is to determine whether any aggravating factors exist.

Nine aggravating factors:

  1. Gross impairment of your faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.
  2. Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
  3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident.
  4. Driving while your driver's license was revoked.
  5. Two or more prior convictions of certain motor vehicle offenses for which at least three points are assigned or which subject your driver’s license to revocation, if the convictions occurred within five years of the current offense, or one or more prior convictions of an offense involving DUI that occurred more than seven years before the current offense.
  6. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141.5 of speeding to elude.
  7. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141 of speeding by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit.
  8. Passing a stopped school bus in violation of N.C.G.S. 20-217.
  9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

Mitigating Factors for DUI Sentencing

After determining whether any aggravating factors exist, the next step in determining the appropriate level of punishment in DUI sentencing is to see if any mitigating factors exist. It is your burden to prove the existence of any mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence.

Eight mitigating factors:

  1. Slight impairment of your faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving.
  2. Slight impairment of your faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, with no chemical analysis having been available to the defendant.
  3. Safe and lawful driving at the time of the offense, except for the DUI.
  4. A safe driving record.
  5. Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was within the prescribed dosage.
  6. Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and voluntary participation in the recommended treatment.
  7. Completion of a substance abuse assessment, compliance with its recommendations, and simultaneously maintaining 60 days of continuous abstinence from alcohol consumption, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.
  8. Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

DUI/DWI Sentencing Levels of Punishment

The determination of the appropriate DWI sentencing level of punishment involves balancing the presence of any grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors mentioned above. The chart below summarizes the six sentencing levels and the corresponding punishments authorized by N.C.G.S. 20-179.

Level of Punishment Factors Fine Imprisonment Probationary Conditions Substance Abuse Assessment Required
Aggravated Level One Three or more grossly aggravating factors Up to $10,000 12 months minimum to 36 months maximum If suspended, must require
1-imprisonment of at least 120 days; AND
2-alcohol abstinence of at least 120 days to a maximum of the term of probation, as verified by CAM.
Yes
Level One 1. Grossly aggravating factor in N.C.G.S. 20-179(c)(4); OR
2. Two other grossly aggravating factors
Up to $4,000 30 days minimum to 24 months maximum If suspended, must require
1-imprisonment of at least 30 days; OR
2-imprisonment of at least 10 days and alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 120 days
Yes
Level Two One grossly aggravating factor Up to $2,000 7 days minimum to 12 months maximum If suspended, must require
1-imprisonment of at least 7 days; OR
2-alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 90 days
Yes
Level Three Aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors Up to $1,000 72 hours minimum to 6 months maximum If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
1-imprisonment for at least 72 hours
2-community service for a term of at least 72 hours
Yes
Level Four No aggravating or mitigating factors or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by mitigating factors Up to $500 48 hours minimum to 120 days maximum If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
1-imprisonment for 48 hours
2-community service for a term of 48 hours
Yes
Level Five Mitigating factors substantially outweigh aggravating factors Up to $200 24 hours to 60 days maximum If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
1-imprisonment for 24 hours
2-community service for a term of 24 hours
Yes

 

Contact Our Charlotte DUI Lawyers if you have questions regarding a DWI arrest in Mecklenburg County by calling 980-224-4482.