North Carolina is one of the strictest U.S. states when it comes to the enforcement of drinking and driving laws. A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the state doesn’t just lead to fines and jail time. Depending on factors during the offense – such as the speed of the vehicle, whether the driver had a minor as a passenger or a significantly high blood alcohol level – a driver can face one of five possible DWI sentences, each with increasingly severe penalties.
The state also hands out criminal penalties to people convicted of habitual impaired driving. When does a driver face this charge, and what are the consequences?
Criteria for habitual impaired driving
According to North Carolina law, a person commits habitual impaired driving if an officer catches them driving while impaired and the person has three or more prior DWI convictions within 10 years of the date of their latest offense. The offense is a Class F felony.
Habitual impaired driving is a separate and distinct offense from DWI. This means that a driver can face both charges from just a single drunk driving incident if they meet the three or more prior convictions criteria.
The penalties for habitual impaired driving
If a court convicts a person of habitual impaired driving, the person faces a minimum term of 12 months of imprisonment, which can’t be suspended for any reason. In addition, the convicted person will have their license permanently revoked as part of the penalties.
To restore their revoked license, the convicted person must wait for 10 years following the completion of their sentence. During that period, they mustn’t have any convictions for any criminal offense and have proof that they currently don’t use alcohol.
A conviction for habitual impaired driving leads to harsh penalties – and that’s not even counting the other punishments a driver faces for a DWI conviction. If you face these charges, know that you don’t have to face them alone. A legal professional can help you build your case and explore your defense options in court.