Mitigating Factors in a North Carolina DWI
North Carolina has a unique six-tier DWI sentencing structure that takes into account various factors in your case. There are three types of factors that the judge will look for: aggravating, grossly aggravating and mitigating. Aggravating and grossly aggravating factors are those that are especially grievous and will result in harsher punishments. Mitigating factors are those that reflect positively on your case. The more mitigating factors you have, the more likely the court will be lenient in your sentencing.
Specific Mitigating Factors
The court considers having clean driving record for five years or more or voluntarily entering an alcohol or drug treatment center and completing an assessment and treatment plan as mitigating factors. In addition, if your blood alcohol content was low at the time of your arrest (close to the legal limit of 0.08%) and if you were not breaking any traffic laws, these will certainly be in your favor.
If your DWI involved drugs, the court may be more lenient on you if you were impaired by a medication that was legally prescribed to you and taken as directed.
Mitigating Factors and Sentencing
Although each DWI case is unique, the judge will use a type of formula to determine your sentence if you are convicted of a DWI or if you plead guilty to the charge. More mitigating than aggravating factors will result in a Level 5 punishment, which is the most lenient of the six tiers. If you have the same number of mitigating and aggravating factors, you will receive a Level 4 punishment, which is slightly more strict. If the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, a Level 3 sentence will be imposed. The absence of mitigating factors and/or the presence of grossly aggravating factors will result in the harshest punishments categorized as either Level 2, 1 or 1A.
Something Else In Your Favor
In addition to mitigating factors, one of the most important things you can have in your corner in your DWI case is an experienced attorney.