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Know the penalties for North Carolina DWI

North Carolina has a five-level penalty system for convictions of driving while intoxicated. Drivers who receive this misdemeanor conviction may be subject to jail time and other penalties.

Review the possible penalties for DWI in North Carolina.

Level V DWI

This charge typically applies to first-time DWI. The Level V case usually has at least one mitigating (positive) factor, such as an offender who has good driving history. This type of charge is free of aggravating factors like excessive blood alcohol content or reckless driving.

A Level V DWI conviction results in:

  • 24 hours to 60 days in jail or 24 hours of community service
  • Fines of up to $200
  • 30-day license suspension

Level IV DWI

A person who receives a Level IV DWI charge usually has one previous DWI or a combination of mitigating and aggravating factors. A conviction results in:

  • 48 hours to 12 days in jail or 48 hours of community service
  • Fines of up to $500
  • 60-day license suspension


North Carolina will impose Level III DWI charges when the person has at least one significant mitigating factor. For example, this charge could result if the person already had a suspended license when he or she received a DWI. A conviction at this level carries:

  • 72 hours to six months in jail or 72 hours of community service
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • 90-day license suspension

In addition to lower-level charges, Level II or Level I charges result from a grossly aggravating factor. For example, North Carolina may order these charges for DWI with a child in the car or causing a DWI accident that injures someone.