How NC's DWI Laws Compare To Other States

8:11 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- When it comes to penalties for drunk driving, how harsh is harsh enough when offenders endanger the lives of others?

Some attorneys and, of course, victims and families don't think punishment for DWI is stringent enough in North Carolina. 

At the same time, some lawmakers, like Senator Don Vaughan, think the law has gone as far as it can.

But how do North Carolina's DWI laws stack up against other states?

First, the laws are very complicated and involve many factors at sent enticing; which mean some people can get away with just a slap on the wrist.

Generally speaking, a first time offender in North Carolina can be forced to pay $1,000 fine, turn over his/her license for a year and receive a six-month suspended prison sentence or community service.

Compare that to South Carolina - where the fine is the same, but license is only suspended for 6 months and jail time can be three months or 30-days of community service.

In Tennessee, first offenders may be fined up to $1,5000, go to jail for 11 months and lose their license for a year,

In New York, sentences vary based on your blood alcohol level at the time of citation.

First offenders can generally expect $1,000 fine, license revocation for 6-months and up to a year in jai.
News 2 also looked at Georgia, Florida and Iowa which have been listed as having some of the toughest laws too and found none of their laws drastically different from North Carolina.

However, just because they are similar across states doesn't mean they are stringent enough.

However, the Guilford County district attorney's office says the state must get more serious about punishing repeat offenders.

"If we can identify them and keep them locked up, if that's the only way we can keep the public safe them that's what we do," said David Long, an assistant district attorney in the Guilford County office.

Long says he's seen repeat offenders who are convicted more than 10 times, but still end up in court months, or years later, on another DWI charge. 

He says he's become so frustrated with that, he sent a letter to lawmakers in Raleigh about changing an arguable kink in the law but no one responded to his request.


The loophole, allows habitual offenders to be treated like first time offenders.

Even though they can lose their license permanently and go to jail after 3 convictions, if they go another 10 years without an arrest, their next offense is not tried as a repeat offense because of a statute of limitations.


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