Top rated Greensboro attorneys answer the question, what is a habitual DWI?
Habitual impaired driving charges in Greensboro Superior Criminal Court is defined as a defendant committing the offense of driving while impaired (as defined in 20-138.1), and has previously been convicted of three or more offenses involving impaired driving as defined in 20-4.01(24a), within 10 years of the offense date.
The controlling statute is:
§ 20-138.5. Habitual impaired driving.
(a) A person commits the offense of habitual impaired driving if he drives while impaired as defined in G.S. 20-138.1 and has been convicted of three or more offenses involving impaired driving as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(24a) within 10 years of the date of this offense.
(b) A person convicted of violating this section shall be punished as a Class F felon and shall be sentenced to a minimum active term of not less than 12 months of imprisonment, which shall not be suspended. Sentences imposed under this subsection shall run consecutively with and shall commence at the expiration of any sentence being served.
(c) An offense under this section is an implied consent offense subject to the provisions of G.S. 20-16.2. The provisions of G.S. 20-139.1 shall apply to an offense committed under this section.
(d) A person convicted under this section shall have his license permanently revoked.
(e) If a person is convicted under this section, the motor vehicle that was driven by the defendant at the time the defendant committed the offense of impaired driving becomes property subject to forfeiture in accordance with the procedure set out in G.S. 20-28.2. In applying the procedure set out in that statute, an owner or a holder of a security interest is considered an innocent party with respect to a motor vehicle subject to forfeiture under this subsection if any of the following applies:
(1) The owner or holder of the security interest did not know and had no reason to know that the defendant had been convicted within the previous seven years of three or more offenses involving impaired driving.
(2) The defendant drove the motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or the holder of the security interest. (1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1039, s. 7; 1993, c. 539, s. 1258; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 14, s. 32; c. 24, s. 14(c); 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 761, s. 34.1; c. 767, s. 32; 1997-379, s. 6; 2006-253, ss. 12, 13.)
For sentencing purposes, it is a class F felony, and requires a 12 month minimum active sentence that can not be suspended. The sentence must run consecutive with and commence at the expiration of any sentence being currently served. The defendant’s vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, and upon conviction their driver’s license will be permanently revoked.
As a practical matter, the offense date of the new underlying DWI charge must occur after the previous conviction dates. Prior convictions may include impaired driving (20-138.1), habitual impaired driving (20-138.5), impaired driving in a commercial vehicle (20-138.2), death of serious injury by vehicle based on impaired driving (20-141.4), murder based on impaired driving (14-17), involuntary manslaughter involving impaired driving (14-18), and substantially similar offenses committed in another jurisdiction. This includes convictions involving impaired driving from Canada! Crazy, eh?
Top rated DWI attorneys, Garrett, Walker, Aycoth and Olson are happy to answer any questions you may have. Our partners teach and publish about North Carolina DWI charges and traffic ticket offenses (including the best selling “ABCs of DWIs” and “ABCs of Traffic Law,” the NC Bar Associations best selling publications). Contact us anytime, at 336-379-0539. It would our privilege to assist you in defending your Greensboro DWI, DUI, or impaired driving charge.