Impaired driving, and especially drunk driving, is a serious problem in North Carolina. Most people don’t set out with the intent to get a DUI, or have a car crash. But every day, it happens. In some cases, there may be a fatality involved. If you were driving under the influence in North Carolina, you’ll probably be arrested and charged with a felony. At this point, you’ll need a criminal defense attorney with DUI experience.
What is a DUI?
Driving Under Impairment in North Carolina means that at the time of the accident, you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, (or .04% if you were driving a commercial vehicle) you have any detectable amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body, or you are “appreciably [visibly] impaired” by alcohol and/or drugs.
North Carolina has five different levels for DUI, with Level V being the lowest, and Level I being the highest.
Felony Death By Vehicle
Unintentionally causing the death of another person while driving in violation of North Carolina’s DUI laws is called “felony death by vehicle.” (A “misdemeanor death by vehicle” means that someone dies as a result of a non-DUI violation, such as speeding or reckless driving.) As a Class D felony, a conviction means 38 to 160 months in prison, fines that are set by the judge, and an immediate revocation of your driver’s license for at least one year. “Aggravated Felony Death By Vehicle” indicates that an individual had another DWI within the 7 years prior to the current DUI. A conviction could mean as much as 64 to 160 months in prison.
Because someone was killed, the charge becomes a Level 1 or Level 2 DUI, and minimum jail sentences cannot be suspended by a judge. Level 2 carries a minimum 7-day jail term, maximum one year, and is punishable by a $2,000 fine. Level 1 carries minimum 30-day jail term and a minimum fine of $4,000. If convicted, you must complete a substance abuse assessment, and comply with the recommended treatment plan offered in order to restore your license and driving privileges.
Repeat offenses and convictions may result in permanent revocation of your license and driving privileges.
What Happens Next?
After the arrest and charge, your license will be revoked for a mandatory 30-day period. If there are no previous convictions, you can show insurance coverage and you complete the substance abuse assessment, your attorney may request limited driving privileges after 10 days. You’ll have to attend a court hearing with your attorney.
If you are convicted of Felony Death By Vehicle, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year, and you may face jail time. You will be placed on probation after your release from prison, and have a number of legal requirements to follow (i.e., alcohol abuse treatment, defensive driving) at the discretion of the judge.
DUI Is Double-Faceted
You will actually have two cases to deal with: the DUI criminal case and the suspension of your license, which is handled by the North Carolina DMV. An experienced DUI attorney can help you with both the criminal case and the restoration of your driver’s license. Your attorney will examine all the factors in your case, ensure that the arrest was correctly handled and all the facts are properly investigated. He or she will go to court with you to fight for you and make sure your rights are respected.
Take No Chances With Felony DUI
Felony Death By Vehicle is a very serious charge, and every case is different. Contact the top DUI/DWI attorney in North Carolina today at 919-832-0307 for a free initial consultation. Dewey P. Brinkley is a former assistant district attorney in Wake County, and has successfully defended thousands of DWI clients in the Raleigh/Wake County area. Mr. Brinkley will discuss your DWI case with you and design your defense so you are properly represented.