Any DUI charge is serious because it can carry penalties and consequences that follow you for life. However, there are special circumstances in some cases that increase the severity of the charge or potential punishment.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, it is possible to have heightened charges even if this is your first time getting a DUI charge.
Loss of vehicle
While you will usually lose your vehicle temporarily upon your arrest for a DUI, there are some cases in which the state will take away your vehicle, impound it and make it very difficult to get back or seize it for good. The Governor’s DWI Initiative says the state has the right to take away a vehicle of a repeat offender who is driving on a suspended license.
If you are in this category, officers may take your vehicle and upon your conviction, the judge may rule to forfeit your car, meaning you lose all rights to it.
A DUI may become a felony if you have three prior convictions. With a felony charge, you face higher fines and more jail time. There is mandatory one-year imprisonment that a judge cannot suspend. You also have to go through a substance abuse program.
If you are underage, there is a zero-tolerance policy, which means you can have no alcohol in your system or smell of alcohol. The penalty is that you will lose your license for one year.
If you have a commercial driver’s license, there is also a zero-tolerance policy. You cannot drive any vehicle, even if it is not a commercial vehicle, while under the influence. You can lose your CDL for a conviction.
These special circumstances are in addition to any other penalties the court hands down for the base DUI charge.