New North Carolina DWI Law Dramatically Increases Punishments for Drunk Drivers

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Recent enhancements to the North Carolina Driving While Impaired (DWI) law are set to go into effect in December, 2011, and dramatically increase punishments for people convicted of certain types of DWI offenses.

Raleigh Criminal Lawyer Damon Chetson

Raleigh Criminal Lawyer Damon Chetson

It's clear that the North Carolina General Assembly is taking a hard line against drunk driving... [S]omeone charged with a DWI needs to find a good attorney to help defend against these charges.

A recent bill signed into law by Governor Bev Perdue dramatically expands punishments for people convicted of Driving While Impaired (DWI) in North Carolina.

The law - called Laura's Law - increases punishments for DWI offenders in North Carolina by adding a new level of punishment called Aggravated Level One.

Under the law, a person who is convicted of a North Carolina DWI and who has three or more grossly aggravating factors is sentenced as an Aggravated Level One.

Aggravated Level One imposes punishments of up to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, in addition to other punishments including post-release supervision which requires complete abstenance from alcohol consumption.

In addition, the new law imposes other penalties. As of December 1, 2011, the new law requires a judge to impose Level One punishment for someone who has been convicted with a DWI and who has a companion in the car under the age of 18.

"These punishment enhancements are quite severe," says Raleigh criminal lawyer Damon Chetson. "For instance, a young person who is convicted of a DWI and has a 17-year-old friend in the car at the time of the DWI will be sentenced as a Level One."

Level One punishments require at least 30 days in jail as a special condition of probation.

"It's clear that the North Carolina General Assembly is taking a hard line against drunk driving," adds Mr. Chetson. "It's also clear that someone charged with a DWI needs to find a good attorney to help defend against these charges."

Since the 1990s, North Carolina has progressively increased punishments and toughened its DWI laws. In addition, many District Attorneys have policies against dropping charged DWIs.

"Even marginal or weak DWI cases are headed for trial in many counties," Raleigh DWI lawyer Damon Chetson notes. "Most DAs simply refuse to drop or dismiss DWIs, which makes these new punishment enhancements all the more problematic for defendants."

The changes to the laws are set to go into effect December 1, 2011, and would apply to any DWI committed on or after that date.

There are many other changes to a law. Mr. Chetson recommends consulting with a criminal defense lawyer about your case before making decisions about how to proceed.

Disclaimer: While The Chetson Firm works hard to achieve the best possible results in every case it handles, no outcome can be guaranteed. Past results do not guarantee future results. Each case is different. If you are facing a criminal investigation or arrest, seek the immediate assistance of a criminal lawyer licensed in your state. The Chetson Firm's lawyers are licensed to practice in the state courts of North Carolina and in the federal courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

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