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North Carolina may change DWI habitual offender law

North Carolina wants to increase the penalties for drunk driving. Two proposed bills in the state would change who is labeled as a habitual offender and how long drivers are labeled as habitual offenders.

Proposed House Bill 40 would label drivers convicted of their third impaired driving offense within 10 years as a habitual offender instead of after their fourth offense under current law. Proposed House Bill 31 would make individuals be labeled as habitual offenders indefinitely instead of the current 10 year requirement.

House Bill 31 was proposed to close a loophole that allows individuals to continue getting into serious drunk driving car accidents and only being labeled as a habitual offender for a decade. Once the offenders have served their time and the label is removed, many would continue to reoffend several times during the next decade and the cycle would repeat.

Some lawmakers opposed to the bill said that they didn't think the habitual offender label should last for the rest of someone's life but the measure passed in the House. Both bills were passed by the House and now the Senate will vote on them.

If the bills are passed by the Senate and signed into law, it would significantly impact people arrested and convicted of driving while impaired, especially if it is a third offense within 10 years.

This is why it is important for individuals arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights now and in the future.

Source: The Times News, "House supports tougher DWI laws," March 20, 2013