Proposed Changes to North Carolina DWI Law in 2011

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North Carolina has some of the harshest DWI and Drunk Driving Laws in the country. In addition, the NC DWI statute favors the prosecution in ways that make defending a DWI case in Raleigh much more difficult than if the person were accused in other states.

But the DWI statute may become even harsher if a proposed bill – “Laura’s Law” – becomes law this year.

The bill proposes to increase punishments for people convicted of Driving While Impaired. First, the bill adds an additional cost of court of $100 to all DWIs. That means that anyone convicted of a DWI, would have to pay $100 in addition to the other costs of court. As of early 2011, the total court costs upon conviction of a Level 5 DWI (the lowest level of DWI in North Carolina) can be as low as $393, including a $250 community service fee and $143 in costs of court. If a person wishes to have a Limited Driving Privilege or higher fines are imposed, the costs can go up.

The new bill would add $100 to those costs.

The second modification is that the bill adds a sentencing level. Currently, a DWI has 5 levels. The bill would add a sixth level, called Aggravated Level One. That level would apply to people have three or more grossly aggravating factors in their case and is really designed to punish repeat DWI offenders.

The new level would include fines of up to $10,000 and require that the person serve at least 120 days of jail and up to 3 years in jail. In addition, anyone convicted of this Aggravated Level One would be barred from having parole, which means they would serve the full sentence.

In addition, a judge would not be allowed to credit a person’s in-patient treatment time against the sentence.

These changes will make North Carolina’s Drunk Driving Laws even more harsh than they are now.