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First Time DUI Consequences in North Carolina

College is touted as the best time of your life. You're away from home, living somewhat independently, and entering the world as an adult. But a lot of the hype surrounds the social aspects of college. You're probably going to quite a few parties, get-togethers, and celebrations. Chances are that there may be liquor available.

Most young college students don't reach legal drinking age until their fourth year of school, or late in their third year. This can lead to underage drinking as well as potential DUIs and DWIs. All these scenarios are bad news.

Underage DUI

North Carolina treats underage drinking and driving with zero tolerance laws. That means if there is any alcohol in your system when you're behind the wheel, you can be charged with a DUI no matter how low your BAC.

If convicted of a first offense underage DUI, you can face jail time for up to a full year, a fine of $200 to $500, and suspension of your license for 60 days.

You can also run into some non-driving charges if there were underage passengers with you also drinking or you used a fake ID to acquire the liquor. Some potential charges include:

  • Soliciting alcohol
  • Minor in possession
  • Alcohol distribution to minors
  • Child endangerment
  • Possession of false ID

Additionally, your car insurance carrier may refuse to renew your policy or even terminate immediately. If they do keep you on, you will pay greatly increased premiums for three to five years. The DMV will likely impose an SR-22 requirement as well.

First Offense DUI Penalties

In the event that you are of age and find yourself facing a DUI, the potential penalties are no less serious. Because NC DUI law handles these offenses on different levels, your penalties can range drastically, depending on various contributing factors.

There are 5 sentencing levels, ranging from the least serious level V to the most serious level I. Fines and potential jail time at these levels follow:

  1. A jail sentence at Level I is between 30 days and 2 years. Maximum fines are $4,000.
  2. A jail sentence at Level II is between 7 days and 1 year. Maximum fines are $2,000.
  3. A jail sentence at Level III is between 72 hours and 6 months. Maximum fines are $1,000.
  4. A jail sentence at Level IV is between 48 hours and 120 days. Maximum fines are $500.
  5. A jail sentence at Level V Is between 24 hours and 60 days. Maximum fines are $200.

Your driving privileges may be suspended between 30 days and one year. You face vehicle impound fees of up to 10 days and you will be required to receive substance abuse treatment and/or attend alcohol safety school at your expense. You might also be subject to probation and community service.

These penalties may spell the end of your college career and have a devastating impact on your future. But if you find yourself in this situation, there are steps that a skilled North Carolina DUI/DWI attorney can take to minimize these consequences. Your best course of action is to forego alcohol and driving, but errors in judgment occur. In those cases, turn to a seasoned DUI attorney.

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