Everyone knows that a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction can seriously impact your life. However, there are other factors that may exacerbate a charge and boost the penalty along with it.

From prior charges to the circumstances during the arrest, the exact nature of a DWI may not be known immediately. However, by understanding the possible ways to worsen a charge, if you may have a better of idea of what to expect if you are ever in that situation.

Enhanced penalties

FindLaw describes several circumstances that may result in more severe DWI charges. A BAC charge of .08 or higher is already over the legal limit and may result in a DWI charge. But state law classifies a BAC level of .15 or higher as grounds to levy a steeper charge. Similar grounds exist if someone drove above the speed limit while intoxicated or was particularly reckless while driving.

Prior issues with the law may also warrant steeper charges. If you had no prior DWIs on your record or no previous problems with traffic violations, you would likely receive a lesser charge and sentence than if you had previous DWIs or other traffic offenses. Driving with a suspended driver license may also result in more severe charges.

The law also penalizes DWI offenses to a greater extent when a case involves children. A person who drives with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle is subjecting that child to possible injury or death by driving under the influence. For that reason, the law will often impose a harsher charge if a minor had accompanied the driver while the driver was operating the vehicle.

A court may consider other factors that might make the DWI more severe. North Carolina has a tiered DWI system, with a Level V being the least severe and a Level I the harshest. Some charges are so serious that they reach the level of felonies. So, the variables that characterize a DWI case, including the background of the driver, matter a great deal in whether a court may hand down the harshest penalties.

No circumstance is hopeless

No matter what happens during the arrest or any enhancing factor, a DWI charge is not a conviction. With representation built around you, by an attorney you can depend on, you have options.