North Carolina Not Tough Enough on Drunk Drivers for One Da

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A North Carolina state senator says that the state’s drunk driving laws can’t get any tougher.

The senator offered his opinion in response to a comment made by the district attorney for Alamance County. The DA had said that he hoped the North Carolina General Assembly would act on making these laws tougher. He also noted that laws have been strengthened in recent years, but not enough to stop this severe problem.

Of particular concern to the DA is the drunk driver who is responsible for the death of another. The state Supreme Court ruled against charging the driver with first degree murder some time ago, though second degree murder charges are still an option. But, the DA complained, “As it stands right now, if you get drunk and you kill somebody, the judge has the discretion to give you a suspended sentence.” To him, that’s not good enough.

The state senator pointed out that new laws have increased sentences for people who drive while impaired and either hurt or kill someone. There are now penalties imposed for tampering with Interlocks to override these systems. Laura’s Law passed in 2011, establishing “aggravated level one” penalties for repeat DWI offenders.

Still, drunk drivers are on the roads, and state lawmakers need to find a way to make the laws stronger and to discourage people from getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink. The senator says that the General Assembly may be able to strengthen the laws a bit, but this may prove to be difficult. He also believes that if fines were larger, people would think twice about drinking and driving.

The senator thinks that an overhaul of the treatment system also could be necessary. If more people are getting better treatment, they might not become repeat offenders. Perhaps a combination of stronger laws and more effective treatment should be considered in the next legislative session.

Source: WFMY News/DigTriad.com, “Senator Says NC’s DWI Laws Strong As Possible,” Philip Jones, July 24, 2012

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