Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) March 21, 2011
In the wake of several high profile drunk driving cases, North Carolina legislators are considering new laws that increase punishments for drunk driving in the state.
A new law - called "Laura's Law" - would create a new level of punishment within North Carolina's misdemeanor DWI law.
Raleigh Criminal Lawyer Damon Chetson notes that the new law creates an "Aggravated Level One" in addition the current 5 other levels.
Aggravated Level One would apply to convicted driving while impaired defendants who have more than three grossly aggravating factors.
The new bill is designed to punish people who repeatedly drink and drive.
But, according to Raleigh DWI lawyer Damon Chetson, the law could also increase punishments for anyone convicted of a DWI in NC who has any combination of two or more grossly aggravating factors.
"Let's imagine someone is convicted of driving with a .08 blood alcohol concentration," says Chetson. "That person could potentially be sentenced to at least 4 months in prison and up to 3 years in prison and fined up to $10,000 even if that person has never been convicted of a DWI before in his life."
The law establishes that "serious injury to another person" by the defendant's impaired driving is a grossly aggravating factor. If three people were seriously injured in another car, those three serious injuries could potentially count as three grossly aggravating factors.
The law also establishes that "driving by the defendant while a child under the age of 16 years was in the vehicle at the time of the offense" is also a grossly aggravating factor.
"North Carolina's courts have not definitively established whether a court can count each child as an individual factor," says Raleigh DWI lawyer Chetson. "As a consequence, you could conceive of a parent with three kids in the car being charged with a DWI and convicted and sentenced as an Aggravated Level One with up to three years in prison."
The proposed law also eliminated parole for sentencing under Aggravated Level One, which means that someone sentenced under this level would serve the entire sentence handed down by the sentencing judge.
The bill also increases the costs of a North Carolina DWI by at least $100.00 by assessing a special cost on all people convicted of the DWI.
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