The first official step which will take place after a person is convicted of driving under the influence in North Carolina is their court hearing. They will have a hearing held by a judge in order to analyze and determine the case and decide which sentence will be imposed on them.
The decision made by the judge will depend on a variety of different factors, specifically, aggravating factors and mitigating factors.
What are some aggravating factors which can make my sentencing harsher?
If a person is arrested for simply drunk driving without any complications involved they won’t have to face very serious sentencing. However, if there were aggravating factors involved then their situation can get a whole lot worse.
Some examples of aggravating factors include:
- Serious bodily harm or injury caused to another person
- Prior DUI which occurred in the last seven years
- DUI while a person has had their license revoked or they do not have a license to begin with
- DUI with a child who is under 16 years of age inside the car
- Extremely reckless driving
- DUI and passing a stopped school bus
- DUI with an especially high BAC (0.16 or higher)
If there are aggravating factors involved in the case then a person will be forced to face more serious penalties such as more jail time and a longer suspension period of their license.
What are some mitigating factors which can help reduce my penalties?
Just as there are aggravating factors which can make a case worse, there are also mitigating factors which can lighten the sentencing significantly. Some mitigating factors in a DUI case include:
- Not being heavily intoxicated
- No prior DUI convictions
- Voluntarily agreeing to be assessed and enrolled in mental health programs and facilities
- Not having caused any harm while DUI
If the mitigating factors in a case are more evident than the aggravating factors then the driver will be let off with a much lighter punishment which only includes fines of up to $200 and possibly a very short amount of jail time.
When do I need to call a lawyer?
Many drivers believe they can fight their case themselves after they get arrested for DUI. Though this may be true, any driver will definitely be better off with the assistance of a DUI lawyer in Gastonia, NC because of the expertise and knowledge they can bring to the table. The attorneys at Jay Boyce Garland, Jr. Attorney and Law can help a person understand their rights and fight their case in court so they are not subjected to unnecessary penalization.
If a person wants to ensure they get the best results at their court hearing it is a good idea to call a legal professional as soon as possible after a person is arrested. If a car accident is involved, drivers generally call their insurance companies first. However, even when an accident is involved it is better to call a lawyer straight away.