What does ‘aiding and abetting DWI’ mean? The charge explained.

Ethan Hyman
·4 min read

The News & Observer reported Tuesday morning that two Duke basketball players are facing charges related to a driving while impaired arrest early Sunday morning.

Michael Savarino, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s grandson, was arrested and charged with DWI, driving after consuming alcohol under the age of 21 and a stop sign violation, The N&O reported.

Star freshman Paolo Banchero was charged with aiding and abetting DWI and was released at the site of the traffic stop.

If you’re just learning that aiding and abetting DWI is against the law in North Carolina, here’s an explanation of what it means — and some scenarios when it might happen.

What is DWI?

Driving while impaired is illegal under North Carolina state law.

A person can be charged with DWI if they drive “any vehicle upon any highway, any street or any public vehicular area within” the state while:

Under the influence of any impairing substance.

Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Having any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance. A Schedule I controlled substance is defined in state law as any substance that has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the U.S. or a lack of accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.

Driving while impaired is a misdemeanor under state law.

What is aiding and abetting?

In 1999, the North Carolina Supreme Court wrote in State v. Goode that “a person is not guilty of a crime merely because he is present at the scene even though he may silently approve of the crime or secretly intend to assist in its commission.”

To be guilty of aiding and abetting, the person “must aid or actively encourage the person committing the crime or in some way communicate to this person his intention to assist in its commission.”

The communication or intent to aid in the crime does not have to be said in words.

The intent to aid may be inferred from the person’s actions and from their relation to the actual perpetrators.

When the bystander is a friend of the perpetrator and knows that their presence will be regarded by the perpetrator as encouragement and protection, the bystander’s presence alone may be regarded as an encouragement to commit the crime.

What is aiding and abetting DWI?

Using the State v. Goode definition of aiding and abetting, a defendant aids and abets impaired driving when they:

Knowingly advise, instigate, encourage or aid another person to drive while impaired and

Their actions cause or contribute to the commission of the DWI crime.

What are the consequences for aiding and abetting DWI?

Aiding and abetting DWI is a Level V DWI offense in North Carolina, according to Charlotte law firm Arnold & Smith.

Level V is the least serious level of DWI in the state.

A Level V DWI is punishable by a fine up to $200 and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days.

When can someone be charged with aiding and abetting DWI?

According to a UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government blog, a common scenario in which a person might be charged with aiding and abetting DWI is when a person knowingly gives control of their vehicle to an impaired driver and rides along with them.

In 1947, the N.C. Supreme Court stated in State v. Gibbs that “when an owner places his motor vehicle in the hands of an intoxicated driver, sits by his side and permits him, without protest, to operate the vehicle on a public highway, while in a state of intoxication, he is as guilty as the man at the wheel.”

The blog says it is “less clear” whether a person may be convicted of aiding and abetting DWI if they knowingly give control of their vehicle to a person who is impaired, but do not ride along with the driver.

The blog says “it seems likely that such conduct would support a conviction for aiding and abetting DWI,” but the author at the time had not seen a case in North Carolina with such circumstances.

In 2003, the Georgia Court of Appeals concluded in Guzman v. State that the owner of a vehicle who was neither the driver nor a passenger in the car aided and abetted driving under the influence when he gave beer and his car keys to a 14-year-old driver.

A person may not be charged with aiding and abetting DWI if they do nothing more than fail to stop or prevent a person from driving while impaired.

In 1975, the N.C. Supreme Court stated in State v. Sanders that “the mere presence” of a person at the scene of the crime, even if they do nothing to prevent the crime, does not make the person guilty.

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