Back in February of 2011, Representative Harry Warren co-sponsored a bill that made substantial changes in the laws that governed the sentencing of those who have been convicted of driving under the influence in North Carolina.
According to the Salisbury Post, the law was later ratified by the state’s Legislature in June and Governor Beverly Perdue signed it into law without any questions. Much of her decisions were based on a drunk driving accident in Gatson County the summer before when a high school student who had just graduated was killed by a drunk driver who had already been convicted of drunk driving once in 2003 and twice later in 2009.
Now, after the damage is done, the driver is facing nearly 30 years behind bars for second-degree murder and for being a habitual offender. The new legislation, “Laura’s Law” was named after he victim.
Our North Carolina drunk driving car accident lawyers understand that many think that “Laura’s Law” is used to go after drivers who have been convicted of their fourth alcohol-related driving offense in 10 years. But if you look a little closer you’d realize that that’s not the case at all. Here’s why. Since 1990, our state has considered a driver as a habitual offender once they get their fourth conviction in 10 years. At this point, a driver is now a convicted felon. Under this category, a driver is required to serve a mandatory sentence in prison and they can’t get their driver’s license back. “Laura’s Law” doesn’t affect these drivers.
“Laura’s Law” is used to take care of those who have been convicted of their third alcohol-related driving offense in seven years when they are arrested subsequently arrested for driving without the proper license or they were driving with someone in the vehicle under the age of 18. It’s these drivers who aren’t covered under the laws of habitual offenders. They were eligible for a maximum sentence of two years behind bars and a judge could put them on probation after an early release if deemed necessary. Now, with “Laura’s Law,” a judge can put these individuals in jail for a maximum of 3 years. While a judge still has an option of letting them out of jail early, they can only let them go after 120 days are served, instead of just 30 days under the old law allowed.
That’s not all though. “Laura’s Law” also requires that those that have been convicted of driving under the influence also abstain from consuming alcohol during their probationary time. Consumption is monitored through a device that is called the continuous alcohol monitor (CAM). The CAM attaches to a person’s ankle and keeps track of their alcohol intake all day every day. When a wearer of the device consumes alcohol, the results are immediately reported to the judge.
There’s even more. “Laura’s Law” says that those who are convicted no longer have access to a state driver’s license. This measure is used to keep these individuals from behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Officials believe that if this law was in place earlier, it could have saved the Gatson County high school student and hundreds more. Now, officials are hoping these measures will help reduce the risk of future occurrences of such needless and preventable tragedies.
The drunk driving car accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices, P.A. offer assistance to those who have been injured a traffic accident in Hickory, Statesville, Charlotte or in any of the surrounding areas, call 1-800-887-1965 to make a free appointment with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer today.
Laura’s Law: Bridging a gap in N.C.’s DWI law, by Darrin D. Jordan, Salisbury Post
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January 25, 2012
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December 27, 2011