Local News

Drunken Driving aRound-the-Clock Problem

Posted September 26, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Statistically speaking, finding people driving drunk before noon, especially during the week, is rare, but not unheard of. After driving his car onto a sidewalk injuring three students on their way to school, police say they have reason to believe William Rice was intoxicated at the time. People want to know why Rice, with a string of driving while impaired charges on his record, was behind the wheel of a car at all.

Dr. Rob Foss, who studies DWI statistics for the University of North Carolina, says troopers usually find that when they arrest someone who is intoxicated, they frequently find a history of such behavior.

According to court records and the Department of Motor Vehicles, Rice has a prior DWI conviction from 1989. In 1994, he was charged with DWI with a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit. He was convicted of reckless driving. In 1992, he was charged with DWI and was convicted of refusing to take a breath test, but got the DWI charge reduced to reckless driving. In 1990, another DWI charge was reduced to driving with his license revoked.

Foss says people who have had experience with DWI frequently learn how to get off when charged again. For instance, they learn that refusal to take a breath test can make it harder on the prosecution when it comes to making the DWI charges stick.

In the past, Rice has also faced charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphenalia and carrying a concealed handgun. All of those charges were dismissed.

He has convictions for several minor traffic offenses.

While police say they have a solid case against Rice, but some people believe, even if he is convicted of all the charges against him, he could do it again.