Prisoner Release Prompts Recollection of North Carolina DWI Decision

North Carolina's first conviction for first degree murder in a drunk driving case was handed down in 1997. However, the recent release of this individual from jail is a reminder of the pivotal North Carolina Supreme Court Case that determined drunk drivers cannot face charges of first-degree murder.

The original 1997 conviction stemmed from an incident in 1996 when an individual decided take prescription drugs, drink, and get behind the wheel - tragically leading to the death of two college students in a car crash.

In 2000, the first-degree murder conviction was overturned by the North Carolina Supreme Court, which held that the prosecutors should not have pursued a first-degree murder charge in an impaired driving case.

A new trial took place in 2003, where the individual pleaded guilty to charges second-degree murder and received a sentence of 15 to 18 years in prison - of which, he spent 15 years incarcerated and was just recently released.

North Carolina DWI Penalties

While the successful appeal removed the option of a first-degree murder charge in DWI cases, this case incited a push for tougher laws against drunk drivers, in particular for repeat offenders. The governor subsequently signed into law tougher penalties for drunk drivers, including a minimum 12-month sentence for repeat offenders and revocation of the driver's license for at least 30 days for all drivers charged with a DWI.

Currently, North Carolina's Blood Alcohol Content limit is 0.08. A first North Carolina DWI conviction carries a mandatory one year license revocation, while a second conviction within three years will mean a four year period of revocation. In addition, fines, community service and even jail time could result from even a first offense.

As these penalties indicate, being charged with a DWI in North Carolina is a serious matter. As such, if you or a loved one is charged with a DWI, contact an experienced attorney who can help you understand the serious charges you face and represent you in court.