A DUI is a DUI is a DUI, right? Not necessarily. In fact, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, North Carolina recognizes five levels of DUI and may categorize the offense in one of five ways. If you face DUI charges in NC, it would be in your best interests to brush up on North Carolina DUI laws so that you can better understand what is at stake.

 For the most basic DUIs, the state uses a five-level classification system. The state preserves levels three through five for first- and second-time offenders, and for cases that do not involve aggravating factors. These levels carry the most lenient penalties. For example, a level five DUI offense carries a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum fine of $200. The minimum jail sentence for a level two offense is 48 hours, and the maximum fine is $500. Level three offenders face a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum fine of $1,000. The judge may choose to suspend the minimum jail sentence for all three levels in exchange for community service hours.

 Level two offenders face a minimum jail sentence of seven days, which a judge may not suspend. A judge may not suspend the jail sentence for level one offenders, either, which must be at least 30 days long. The maximum fines for level two and level one offenses are $2,000 and $4,000 respectively.

In addition to jail time, offenders at all levels face license suspension. Repeat offenders may be subject to license revocation and a substance abuse assessment.

North Carolina may categorize a DUI offense in one of five ways: Misdemeanor, felony, commercial, underage and violation of implied consent laws. You may receive a felony DUI charge if you have three prior DUI convictions on your record over the past seven years. State law mandates that felony DUI offenders serve at least one year in prison, a term that a judge cannot suspend.

The state recognizes a zero-tolerance policy for commercial drivers. It is illegal for commercial drivers to drink and drive, period. A first-time conviction will result in a 10-day disqualification period, while subsequent offenses will result in license revocation. Underage individuals are also subject to the zero-tolerance policy, and violation of it may result in 30-day pretrial revocation of one’s license.

If a driver refuses to take a blood test, the state will immediately revoke his or her license for 30 days prior to the hearing. After the hearing, the suspension will remain intact for an additional year. This is true even if the driver is not guilty of a DUI.

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.