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Are DWI Records Public in North Carolina?

If you’ve ever been arrested for anything, it’s very possible that anyone can find it with some online or offline searching. This includes being arrested for a Driving While Impaired(DWI). Therefore DWI records are public in North Carolina.

In  general, criminal records are considered public information throughout the United States. For example in Florida,  every arrest, including court dates, is a public record and easily accessible. Criminal records are available through courthouses as well as “people finder” websites. Using these third-party websites is frequently easier because the information is not limited to availability by locale. Employers may do a search on you if you are applying for a job.

The information from third-party websites can serve as a starting point for anyone looking for a specific record or several records on an individual. However online search sites are not government-sponsored. Availability may vary by the provider and some of the information may not be entirely correct.

Freedom Of Information

Are DUI Records Public in North Carolina?No matter what you’ve been arrested for, including DWI, anyone can learn about your arrest through a public record search unless it’s been expuncted from your record, meaning removed, also called “expunged” in some states.

North Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law allows the public to inspect and examine government-created records. State public criminal records are available in several databases in North Carolina. They are maintained by the courts and law enforcement agencies. These records are also accessible online and allow citizens to request copies for reasonable fees.

North Carolina’s court system also maintains a complete database of charges (arrests) and convictions made in conjunction with law enforcement agencies throughout the state. You can obtain certified copies by mail or in person, or by visiting a local police station.

Wake County utilizes the North Carolina Public Records Law, found at N.C.G.S. Chapter 132, further explains public records. North Carolina requires that public records are to be made available to the public for a nominal cost or for free, as well as via Internet accessibility. Online access to these public records makes things easier for the public and saves Wake County time, money, and resources.

Effects of DWI Arrest

If you’ve been arrested, you will be required to disclose it when asked on employment applications, as well as applications for credit, college, and housing. The exception is if the arrest was expuncted from your record. In the case of DWI, expunction is only possible if the case was dismissed.  Please note, North Carolina does not allow for expunction of DWI convictions.  Be forewarned that if you don’t tell the truth on your application, a background check will certainly reveal the truth for you.

Another direct impact of a DWI arrest is the marked increase in your insurance rates. As a newly branded “high-risk driver,” your rates will increase almost instantly after your arrest. Many companies will refuse to insure drivers who have been arrested for DWI and drop you entirely. However, there are companies that will insure someone who has been arrested, albeit expensively.

Employment

Depending on the type of job you have, it is possible you could be terminated after an arrest for DWI. This is particularly true if driving is a vital part of your job. Bus drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers, and other driving-centric jobs may, at the least, suspend you after a DWI arrest.

If you are terminated and need to seek new employment, it is possible to find additional employment. However, you will be ineligible for several different types of jobs, including:

• Jobs in which you’re required to drive
• Military enlistment and other government jobs
• Jobs that require the handling of very confidential information
• Jobs that require working with children, such as daycare and teaching

During an interview, it’s best to wait until asked about any arrests or convictions, but of course, don’t lie. Give a brief description of the circumstances that led to the DWI, what you’ve done since then to correct things, including rehab, and what you learned.
Your DWI defense attorney can advise you on your case and how to proceed with the employment.

Fight The DWI

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who works to defend DWI cases. He will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 (or use our online contact form) for a free consultation. You can also email him at dewey@deweybrinkleylaw.com.

How Are Crimes Categorized In North Carolina?

Crimes in North Carolina have two general categories: felonies and misdemeanors. They are divided further into sub-categories based on the seriousness of the crime.

Each division has its own sentencing guidelines, which are ordered at the judge’s discretion. Some crimes may be given the state’s minimum sentencing, while others may be given at the maximum sentencing. The judge can add to or subtract from the specified sentence as well as specify what type of sentence the defendant will serve.

Misdemeanors

From simple affray to possession of very small amounts of marijuana, a misdemeanor is a “minor” crime that frequently requires a court appearance in front of a jury. It may or may not include jail time. Punishments are either active, intermediate, or community, and are up to the judge to decide.

How Are Crimes Categorized In North Carolina?These misdemeanor categories are:

  • Class 3, the least serious of offenses, such as shoplifting. This can include a sentence of 1 to 20 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
  • Class 2, the next serious offense, such as carrying a firearm without a permit. This can include a sentence of 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
  • Class 1, such as prostitution. This can include a sentence of 1 to 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
  • Class A1, the highest level of misdemeanor, such as assault that inflicts serious injury. This can include a sentence of 1 to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment

It’s important to note that although a misdemeanor is a “minor crime,” a conviction, even without jail time, can leave you with a criminal record and all that goes with it.

Prior Misdemeanor Convictions

These groupings are only for first offenses. The state also classifies conviction levels as follows:

  • Level I: no prior convictions
  • Level II: one to four prior convictions
  • Level III: five or more prior convictions

The court takes these levels into consideration when determining the sentence.

Felonies

These are more serious crimes and are given much harsher penalties and sentences. From the highest to lowest, these are North Carolina’s classifications for felonies:

  • Class A—death penalty or life with or without parole (for the most serious, such as murder)
  • Class B1—144 months to life without parole
  • Class B2—94 to 393 months
  • Class C—44 to 182 months
  • Class D—38 to 160 months
  • Class E—15 to 63 months
  • Class F—10 to 41 months
  • Class G—8 to 31 months
  • Class H—4 to 25 months
  • Class I—3 to 12 months

These classifications are only for an individual’s first offense.

Prior Felony Convictions

Similar to prior misdemeanor convictions, North Carolina takes prior convictions into consideration.

North Carolina’s state statute assigns points to each prior conviction:

  • Class A felony conviction: 10 points per conviction
  • Class BI felony conviction: 9 points per conviction
  • Class B2, C, or D felony conviction: 6 points per conviction
  • Class E, F, or G felony conviction: 4 points per conviction
  • Class H or I felony conviction: 2 points per conviction
  • Previous misdemeanor conviction: 1 point per conviction

Points are added and a level is assigned based on the total number of points:

  • Level I—0 to 1 point
  • Level II—2 to 5 points
  • Level III—6 to 9 points
  • Level IV—10 to 13 points
  • Level V—14 to 17 points
  • Level VI—18 or more points

The court then uses this number to determine the dispositional range for sentencing, as well as any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Fines

In addition to prison time, a judge can impose a fine, depending on the crime and the severity. For instance, someone who is sentenced only to community service can be also subject to paying a fine (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23 (2019))

Your Criminal Defense Counsel In Raleigh

Even as a misdemeanor, any type of conviction can have long-ranging consequences that impact your life, including a criminal record. Don’t ignore any criminal charges, no matter how minor. They can cost you considerably later on, and impact your life for years to come.

If you’ve been arrested and are facing any kind of criminal charges, call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us by using our online contact form.