Last month, we discussed proposed legislation entitled “Laura’s Law.” Recently, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of the bill. The bill will now head to the North Carolina Senate where it is also expected to pass.
The bill is named after a 17-year-old North Carolina resident, Laura, who was killed by a repeat DWI offender in July 2010. The impaired driver pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Currently, there are five levels of DWI charges in North Carolina. As discussed in our previous post, the proposed law would create a new level of punishment for DWI, called Aggravated Level One. Aggravated Level One would apply to anyone convicted of DWI in which there are three other grossly aggravating factors.
If enacted, the new law will increase the penalties for DWI if the situation is determined to be Aggravated Level One. A person convicted of Aggravated Level One DWI will spend a minimum of 12 months in jail. They may, however, be required to serve up to 2½ years behind bars. In addition, parole will not be allowed for convictions under this new level. This means that, if convicted, the accused would be required to serve the entire prison sentence that the judge orders. A convicted offender would also face fines of up to $10,000.
A convicted offender may be released four months before the end of the sentence, but would be required to remain sober during that time. If released early, the offender would be continually monitored for alcohol consumption. In addition, if convicted they would be required to enroll in an inpatient alcohol or substance abuse treatment facility at their own expense, a costly endeavor.
North Carolina drivers who are charged with driving while impaired already face serious consequences. If the proposed legislation becomes law, as it most likely will, we all should be aware that the increased penalties will be severe.
Source: Automotive Discovery, “DWI Punishments Increasing in North Carolina,” Dottie Hanan Smith, 22 Mar 2011