NC Drunk Driving Myths and Facts

Drunk Driving is certainly a serious problem in our country. Since the early 1980s, however, alcohol-related accident deaths have steadily declined, even as the number of people on the roads and the number of vehicle-miles driven each year has increased.

In 1982, there were more than 26,000 alcohol related deaths, even though there were many fewer people driving on the roads in 1982 that there are today, nearly 30 years later.

In 2008, there were just under 14,000 alcohol related motor vehicle deaths. In addition, alcohol-related deaths have fallen as a percentage of the number of motor vehicle deaths. In 1982, more than 1 in 2 motor vehicle deaths was alcohol-related. Today, far less than half of all motor vehicle deaths are alcohol-related.

This does not change the fact any death at the hands of drunk driver is a death too many. Drunk driving is a preventable crime.

But in our quest to rid the world of drunk driving, we should be always careful to accurately report the facts, and not rely on myths.

Myth: It’s easy to beat a DWI in North Carolina

Fact: In fact, North Carolina’s DWI laws are difficult to defend against. That’s because North Carolina has adopted a “relevant time” standard allows the State to use a BAC of .08 or above taken at “any relevant time” after the driving to show that the person was impaired at the time of driving.

Myth: DWIs are often reduced to less serious offenses

Fact: In most counties, including Wake County, District Attorneys almost never reduce a DWI down to a less-serious offense as part of the plea-bargaining process. In part, the result is crowded courtrooms since the lack of plea offers encourages defendants to fight the case.

Myth: People with multiple DWIs get off easy

Fact: In North Carolina, someone who is commits a second DWI within 7 years of a prior DWI conviction faces at least 7 days in jail (or in-patient treatment) and up to 1 year (in reality 5 months) in jail. People who commit 4 or more DWIs face the felony charge of Habitual DWI, which has a mandatory 1 year prison sentence upon conviction.

Myth: People who kill someone while drunk driving get off easy.

Fact: In North Carolina, someone who kills another person while drunk driving faces any number of very serious charges, including Second Degree Murder.

Myth: People routinely are convicted of multiple DWIs.

Fact: The vast majority of people who drink and drive are never caught. The vast majority of people who are caught and are convicted of a DWI never commit another DWI.

Myth: I can fight my own DWI without the help of a skilled lawyer.

Fact: A DWI carries with it serious penalties – fines, loss of license for a year, community service, possible jail time, probation, and substance abuse treatment. It is a blemish on a criminal record that will never go away. Smart people don’t drink and drive. But everyone makes mistakes, and smart people who drink and drive, hire skilled lawyers to defend them.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.