If you are convicted of DWI, you could face one of six different levels of punishment. Within these levels, there are ranges of punishments. The punishment you face depends on aggravating and mitigating factors in your case. On this page, we explore the mitigators that often help clients get lower levels of punishment.
- Substance Abuse Assessment– These typically last less than an hour, and there are numerous assessment center locations through Mecklenburg County. They all cost $100, so location is one of the primary considerations in choosing where to go. We can recommend assessment centers if clients would like a recommendation. Most assessment centers have openings throughout the day, but require an appointment. Once a substance abuse assessment is completed, a certain level of treatment is recommended. We advise many of our clients to go ahead and get the assessment and complete the recommended treatment. This shows the judge that they are taking responsibility for their actions, and they are willing to seek help. This has the advantage of allowing a person to complete the treatment before a judge sets a deadline. When a judge gives 30 or 60 days to complete treatment, in practice that could be a very tight timeline.
- Blood Alcohol Content Of .09 Or Below– A low alcohol concentration is a mitigating factor.
- Statutorily Safe Driving Record– The defendant has no charges which carry four or more points within five years.. This demonstrates to the judge that the defendant has a record of being a safe driver. Fortunately, the legislators added this factor to reduce the penalties for people who have a history of safe driving. On a related note, it is a mitigating factor if the driving at the time of the DWI offense, the driving was safe and lawful, aside from driving while impaired.
- Verified, Continuous Sobriety– Another mitigating factor to be weighed is 60 days of continuous sobriety, as confirmed by continuous alcohol monitoring (known as SCRAM, for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring). This is an intense process to go through. For most of our clients, this is not a recommendation that we make, for several reasons. There is an installation fee and a monitoring fee, so even putting the device on requires money, and keeping it on continues to cost money. The second reason is the change in lifestyle that you will have to make. You will have to cease drinking alcohol. You cannot even take one swallow or you will set off the device. In addition, there are other changes that you will have to make. The use of other substances, such as mouthwash, nail polish remover, or other chemicals can set off the device. You don’t want to abstain from alcohol, only to have a false positive make it seem as though you have been drinking. The second reason that we do not recommend it for most cases is that it does not make that big of a difference for many of our clients. There are exceptions to this, where submitting to continuous alcohol monitoring could keep out clients out of jail, or at least minimize their time there. So the value of continuous alcohol monitoring varies from case to case.
- Catchall Provision– The law states that the judge can include other relevant considerations. This gives broad discretion to the judge.
It is important to know what the mitigating factors are because it helps clients understand what kind of punishment they may be facing, and what steps they could take to make their situation better. Being prepared to go in front of a judge with the mitigating factors can have a huge impact on what level a person is sentenced at. Our firm would be glad to help you with your case, whether you ultimately choose to go to trial, or if you choose to build mitigators for a plea.