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DUI Sentencing Penalties Compound With Repeat Offenses

Lately we have discussed several proposed changes to North Carolina's drunk driving laws. If passed, the laws will effectively toughen sentencing for those convicted of a DUI. But most people don't have a clear idea of the current sentencing guidelines and how sentences are decided. A recent DUI case involving a man in Mount Airy shows that DUI sentencing gets compounded with each conviction.

Earlier this month a Mount Airy man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Drunk Driving. Why was his sentence so harsh? Because of his previous record, he qualified as both a "habitual impaired driver" and a "habitual felon."

In North Carolina, you are considered a habitual impaired driver if you have had at least 3 DUI convictions. 3 is the magic number at which DUIs switch from being a misdemeanor to being classified as a felony. The man's police record shows convictions dating all the way back to 1986.

To get classified as a habitual felon, a person must have more than four previous felony convictions. The man's two most recent drunk driving offenses occurred 15 days apart during May of last year.

Because the judge chose to convict the man as both a habitual impaired driver and as a habitual felon, the man received a 10 year prison sentence.

Drunk driving is taken seriously by the state of North Carolina. Repeat offenses often result in harsh penalties. Those who are charged with a DUI need to understand the gravity of the situation and seek a strong legal defense.

Source: The Mount Airy News online, "Mount Airy man gets 10 years for drunk driving," 02 February 2011

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