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"Laura's Law" Passes Unanimously In North Carolina House

Last month we reported about the proposed legislation to crack down on drunk driving in North Carolina. Dubbed "Laura's Law," the bill seeks to impose stricter penalties on repeat DWI offenders.

While it has not become a law yet, it seems to be well on its way. The North Carolina House voted on the bill last week and it passed 116 to 0. The House will vote on the bill again next week, but considering that it passed unanimously this time, there's more than a good chance it will pass again. After that, the "Laura's Law" bill will move to the Senate where it is expected to receive similar support.

The bill was named for 17-year-old Laura Fortenbury who was killed last July in a car accident involving a repeat drunk driver. The man charged in her death just pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and could spend up to 28 years in prison.

In the wake of the tragedy the new bill has overwhelming support. The idea behind the bill is to increase fines and jail time and lower the threshold at which a repeat drunk driver can be severely punished.

We have already posted about some of the changes that would occur under the new law, including more mandatory jail time without parole and significantly increasing the fines which repeat offenders must pay. However, there are some new sentencing provisions as well.

For instance, after repeat offenders serve their mandatory jail time they will be required to abstain from alcohol for 4 months. And they won't be on the honor system. They will be required to wear continuous monitoring devices to make sure that there is no alcohol in their bloodstream.

The bottom line is that North Carolina lawmakers are getting tough on drunk driving. The new bill is likely to pass, and when it does, the tolerance for repeat DWI offenses will go down while punishment goes up. We will post updates on the bill's progress as information becomes available.

Source: Hickory Daily Record online, "Tougher DWI punishments on pace to become law," Richard Gould, 11 March 2011

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