Bill increases penalties for DWI deaths

Posted July 5, 2012
Updated July 14, 2012

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— The North Carolina legislature passed a bill on June 28 that increases the penalty for driving while intoxicated deaths to a Class D felony and implements a graduated scale of penalties. The bill is now on Gov. Bev Perdue's desk for approval.

The bill also addresses the definition of first- and second-degree murder and ups consequence for several aggravating factors, including DWI, drug-dealing and malice.

In a May 10 story on WRAL News, Sen. Buck Newton, R-Nash, was outspoken about sponsoring legislation to increase the penalties. A similar bill, Senate Bill 393, was proposed last year, but it never got out of committee.

“Good people get killed. Good people get maimed. Terrible things happen when people drink and drive,” Newton said.

Most drivers who cause a death while drunk are charged with felony death by vehicle. In rare cases, North Carolina district attorneys will charge them with second-degree murder.

However, those cases can be difficult to prove because prosecutors need to show an aggravating circumstance, such as a prior drunken driving charge, and prove malice to a jury, which can be a tough sell.


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  • mobleystephanie07 Jul 6, 2012

    Should be straight up manslaughter. We wouldn't let it slide if they were drunk and beat someone to death or shot them. So why do we think less of it because they use a car?

    Because that would be INTENT. I think rarely people get in their cars drunk and INTEND to purposely hit people they've never met before... Just saying.. Think before you speak! ~Wise

  • kermit60 Jul 6, 2012

    Should be straight up manslaughter. We wouldn't let it slide if they were drunk and beat someone to death or shot them. So why do we think less of it because they use a car?

  • loprestw Jul 6, 2012

    Come on, you think Bev will approve this bill? If you lock these guys up you lose democractic votes.

  • Wendellcatlover Jul 6, 2012

    "...The bill is now on Gov. Bev Perdue's desk for approval."

    Oh well, good try NC Legislature...Since this bill was sponsored by a Republican you can fully expect miss Bev to veto matter how good it is for the public. We wouldn't want to offend all those drunk drivers now would we???

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 5, 2012

    The other reason this always makes me mad. I have been a victim of armed robbery, assult by a deadly weapon. I have friends that have been robbed. I know more people that have been effected by that crime then DWI. Yet, every two years you see tougher DWI laws which are commited less than other crimes. Yet, you see nothing new passed on these other crimes. Not only that but you also see them pushed and passed around election years and also if you look at state laws right now. DWI have laws that just apply to them, like pleaing, what can be presented in defense and can not and it is very specific. A murder, a robber, a rappist. They don't have any of that. There is no new laws for those crimes. Which are actually done with malice of forethought.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 5, 2012

    NCketters. Actually, 76% of first time DWI offenders never reoffend. That is the media hype that the MADD organization would like you to think. Also the technology doesn't allow to keep these people from driving. The fact of the matter is the people that get caught on a first time offense that realizes they were wrong and don't drive within the restriction of their punishment don't. The one that don't care still drive even though they aren't suppose to. That is the reality of it. Beyound popular belief most DWI's aren't alcoholics. That is also another hyped up thing.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 5, 2012

    These people in the report should be mad and I think if emotion was removed they would realize that the increase in the law makes no difference on the love one being dead. I see it all the time working the night shift. Drive down the road and the cop is hiding a block away from the bar at 2 a.m. to "catch" a DWI. After 15 other DWI's turn the other direction, he will get one vs. if that same cop was to park in plain site by the parking lot. How many people would think twice getting in that vehicle? I imagine a lot more than when they don't see him. Is it the cops fault that he is down the road? No? As we see the departments are more concerned about money and tickets than protection and provention. I blame that on the leaders, not the police departments.

  • ncketters Jul 5, 2012

    DUI offenders who murder someone have done so with malice of forethought. Many, not all, have a string of DUIs but don't care who they maim of kill as long as they get their fix. Multiple offenders should never be allowed to drive again. The technology today allows that to be done.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 5, 2012

    Drinking alcohol has and always will be part of society. We added vehicles to this mix. Which has made it dangerous. I really think that the more I think about it. The more I think that if it is such a problem. They need to go to a .00 BAC on driving. Then people don't have to calculate if the are driveing within the law or not. You take a drink and you don't drive. Although, the state doesn't like that idea because they would have businesses brething down there next about lose of money. Not to mention the state would loose money of sales as well. I have said for a long time the state has no interest other than making money and increasing there election stats by the laws they keep making on DWI. Cause the sate controls the sale of alcohol. They aren't ever going to really pass a law that makes it safer. Prevention has never been the topic on DWI law. It has always been punishment after the fact.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 5, 2012

    also before the back lash begins. The news blaster the deaths and plays on emotiion. In the interview one of the family memebers says they don't see the differnce between the person taking a loaded gun and killing someone then drunk driving. I think Drunk driving is wrong but I also think there is a big difference between a loaded gun and killing someone on purpose then drunk driving. I think the state needs to start with the source of the problem. If you watch the news report they make it sound like an epidemic. If it is that much of a problem then the state has an alcohol problem. You can't tell me when you see a parking garage full in downtown Raleigh on a Saturday night that you don't realize most of those people are out drinking and due to a lack of transportation oprtion and the location these establishments are allowed to server. That people don't realize these people are going to drive drunk.