Felony charge keeps repeat drunk driver from behind wheel
Posted May 18, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Within an hour of airing a WRAL Investigates story on Penny Seagroves' driving record, she was arrested Tuesday evening on a felony charge of habitual drunk driving.
Seagroves, 56, has been convicted eight times for impaired driving since 2001: four times in Wake County and once each in Durham, Franklin, Granville and Edgecombe counties. Yet, all of the convictions were misdemeanors, and she spent a total of 24 months in state prison.
When WRAL Investigates began asking authorities about her case, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman took another look at it, and a grand jury on Tuesday indicted Seagroves on the felony charge in connection with a February DWI charge, which allowed a magistrate to set a $50,000 bond.
Seagroves was still behind bars Wednesday when she made her first court appearance on the charge, and she hid her face in the courtroom, where the judge appointed an attorney for her.
She went by Penny Deniece Seagroves in court, one of several aliases she's used over the years to avoid prosecution. Her daughter, Faye Lopez, told WRAL Investigates that Seagroves also moved the family frequently to avoid arrest.
Freeman said she decided to pursue more serious charges after learning that Seagroves was still driving despite having her license permanently revoked.
"Given her long history of driving while impaired and also the many times she failed to appear, and another thing that really came forward that we now know is that she intentionally for years moved from county to county to try to avoid having to face responsibility for these driving while impaired charges, so it's important from a public safety standpoint that she be taken back into custody," Freeman said.
Lopez said she's relieved and thankful her mother is no longer driving. She said she hopes her mother gets some help while behind bars in the form of intensive rehabilitation.