http://www.seiferflatowlaw.com Adam Seifer explains - In North Carolina, there are 6 levels for sentencing upon conviction. There’s Levels 1-5 and Level 1a, which is the most severe. 5 is the least severe level. Sentencing is based on the presence of grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors. Grossly aggravating factors are really bad facts such as having a minor child in the car with you, having a prior conviction for DWI within a certain time period, causing an accident involving personal injury etc. If there are 3 or more of these, then the person is automatically a level 1a. If there are exactly 2 present, then it’s a level 1 and if theres only 1 of these facts present, youre a level 2. All of these include mandatory jail time and fines. The amount of jail time and fine simply depends on which level you are. If you don’t have any of the grossly aggravating factors present then you would be either a level 3, 4 or 5. The level is determined by weighing aggravating factors (not grossly aggravating as discussed before) against mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are bad facts but not quite as bad as the grossly aggravating factors. These could include a bad overall driving record or a really high breath or blood test result of alcohol concentration. Mitigating factors are good factors like a safe driving record or the fact that you obtained a substance abuse assessment prior to conviction. If the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating, youre a level 3. If theyre equal, level 4 and if there are more mitigators present than aggravators, then youre a level 5. All of these 3 levels include fines, community service and drug and alcohol classes. The amount of fine and community service is simply dictated by the level, but either way, you shouldn’t be looking at active jail time except in rare instances.