North Carolina legislatures move to increase DWI penalties

The House recently passed two bills that would increase penalties associated with DWI crimes in NC. The bills are now under consideration in the Senate.

Penalties associated with drunken driving crimes in North Carolina are harsh and can include costly fines and imprisonment. Some legislatures argue that the current penalties are not severe enough and are pushing for reform. As a result, lawmakers in North Carolina are considering two bills that would increase penalties associated with driving while impaired, or DWI, convictions.

A recent article in The News & Observer reports that the NC House overwhelmingly approved the bills and both are headed to the Senate for further consideration.

More on proposed legislation

The first bill, House Bill 31, is referred to as the 0.00 Alcohol Restriction-All DWI bill. This bill is designed to require that those who are driving with a restricted license for an impaired driving offense have a 0.00 alcohol concentration. Current law allows the driver to operate the vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or less.

The second proposal is House Bill 32 or the Amend Habitual DWI bill. This bill is structured to change the definition of habitual impaired driving in North Carolina. Current state law considers four offenses within ten years habitual impaired driving. This proposal would reduce that requirement, resulting in a charge of habitual impaired driving with the third offense.

A conviction for habitual impaired driving is a felony and comes with a minimum imprisonment of one year, a sentences that cannot be suspended.

Impact of these proposals

If the proposals are passed, the penalties surrounding drunken driving crimes in North Carolina will increase. These proposals serve as a reminder of the evolving nature of criminal law. The laws and penalties that are associated with these crimes change and those charged with a crime should take the charges seriously.

Legal counsel can help

Defenses are available and can result in a reduction of charges. One of the more common examples involves an argument that the traffic stop leading to the charges was improper. In order for an officer to make an initial traffic stop, the officer must have probable cause. Without probable cause, the stop is illegal. This could result in any evidence connected to the stop being inadmissible. Ultimately, a successful defense centered on the improper stop argument could lead to a dismissal of charges.

This is just one of many options a drunken driving defense attorney will consider. As a result, those who are charged with a drunk driving crime are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced North Carolina drunk driving defense attorney to better ensure their legal rights are protected.

Keywords: drunk driving defense criminal defense