Cracking Down on Drunk Driving

One of the biggest contributors to drunk driving is the fact that each individual driver makes the determination on whether he or she feels sober enough to get behind the wheel, and often after a few drinks, impaired judgment has a hand in making that call. So many times, a driver thinks he is “not that drunk” or has “only had a couple beers” and will be fine to make it the short distance home. All too often, he or she is making such decisions while drunk or tipsy. Not only does this choice put the driver and others on the road at risk for potential accidents, but it could also land the driver in serious legal trouble. Because drunk driving is such a problem and such a common crime with high potential for disaster, law enforcement officers and legislators are constantly on the lookout for ways to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel when they are too drunk to safely drive. In North Carolina, legislators have enacted some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country and most are aimed specifically at repeat offenders with histories of drunk driving. Laura’s Law and What’s Next for NC In 2011, the state’s lawmakers passed “Laura’s Law,” which redefined habitual drunk driving offenders and increased penalty options for those who fell into the new definition. Laura’s Law stipulates that anyone who has had four or more DUI/DWI convictions on his or her record is considered a repeat offender. Repeat offenders who were charged with a fourth or subsequent drunk driving offense would be subject to increased penalties, including higher fines, harsher criminal charges and longer prison sentences. Now, the state’s legislators are hoping to amend these statutes even further. Earlier this year, two bills sponsored by Democratic Representative Darren Jackson of Wake County were introduced and both parties showed significant support. In his introduction, Jackson cited traffic statistics from 2013, which demonstrate that nearly one-third of all traffic and car-accident related fatalities in North Carolina involved drunk drivers. The first measure, House Bill 31, deals with convicted drunk drivers and sets restrictions on those who have had their licenses suspended as a result. These offenders are typically on their first drunk driving charge and would be prohibited from driving with any amount of alcohol in their systems. House Bill 32 is the second part of the initiative. The measure plans to set further limitations on the criteria for labeling a driver as a “habitual” DUI offender. Although under Laura’s Law, the habitual drunk driving label is assigned after four convictions within a ten-year period, House Bill 32 wants to lower this to three convictions within the same 10 years. Habitual drunk driving will be treated as a felony offense. Convicted persons would be required to spend a minimum of one year in jail and complete a substance abuse program either during the jail sentence or after as part of their paroles. At Cheshire, Parker, Schneider & Bryan, we represent anyone who has been charged with drunk driving in North Carolina. To discuss these new measures, and how they may affect your case, contact a Raleigh DWI lawyer at the firm for a consultation today.
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