This year has brought about sweeping changes in North Carolina Law. Some of those changes include numerous changes in gun laws, additional laws aimed at preventing young speeders, and in the area of DWI. Below is a form letter we sent out around Christmas to all of our former DWI clients. The letter is intended to educate clients on the new DWI law and I thought it might prove informative as a blog. In a later post I hope to provide a complete summary of DWI punishment in its current form.
Re: Updates to North Carolina DWI Law
At Ludlum Law Firm we are committed to providing continued service to our clients. You are receiving this letter because we have represented you on a Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge in the past. Beginning December, 2011, there will be significant changes to North Carolina’s DWI laws that we think you need to know about. This letter serves to summarize and alert you about these upcoming changes.
The first major change to our DWI law is designed to protect young and handicapped passengers. Pursuant to this change, any person convicted of DWI, who, at the time of the offense has a passenger in the car who is 1)Under the age of 18; OR 2) Is mentally handicapped; OR 3) Suffers from a physical condition that would prevent them from escaping a wrecked car on their own, will automatically be punished as a Level 1 DWI offender. Level 1 DWI punishment is the second most serious of DWI punishments and carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and as much as 2 years in prison. This enhanced punishment is based solely on the passenger in the vehicle, and applies regardless of whether this is a first DWI offense or any other mitigating factor.
The second major change is called “Aggravated Level 1 Punishment”. Pursuant to this modification to current DWI law, any DWI offender with more than two grossly aggravating factors will be punished as an “Aggravated Level 1 Offender” . Grossly aggravating factors include: 1)A prior DWI conviction within 7 years of the date of the current offense; 2) The offender’s license was suspended at the time of this offense because of a prior alcohol related offense; 3) The offender was involved in an accident that resulted in serious injury. This new level of DWI punishment includes: 1) A minimum of 12 months, and a maximum of 36 months in prison; 2) A fine up to $10,000; 3)Four months of abstaining from alcohol use as monitored by a continuous alcohol monitoring system (an ankle bracelet that tests the wearers sweat for signs of alcohol.)
We truly hope that these changes never become an issue for you. The State of North Carolina has made DWI offenders a top priority, and rightfully so. It is our hope that by educating our clients about these new enhanced punishments we can do our part to prevent future tragedy. If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions regarding these new laws please feel free to call or email us.
From our family to yours,
J. Garrett Ludlum
Hayes S. Ludlum
The whole Ludlum Law Firm Staff