Jail time for DUI depends on the gravity of the offense. For the most part, North Carolina state law relies on a level system to determine culpability.
There are five levels of punishment for DUI, level 1 being the most severe. The judicial system determines the level of punishment by comparing and contrasting aggravating and mitigating factors present in the offense. The more the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating ones, the less likely an offender will face jail time.
For your lawyer to convince the court to do away with imprisonment, the nature of the offense must be at level 3 or below. According to state law, the judge can substitute imprisonment for community service for the same amount of time. For example, if the DUI offense is at level 5, the judge can have the offender render community service for 24 hours.
For a DUI case to be considered at least a level 3, no grossly aggravating factor must be found in the offense. There are four of these factors, one of which is the fact that the offender has been convicted of a previous DUI case within seven years of the current DUI case. Another is the fact that the driver was accompanied by an under-16 passenger at the time it occurred.