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Drunken Driving aRound-the-Clock Problem

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RALEIGH — Statistically speaking, finding peopledriving drunk before noon, especially during the week, is rare, but notunheard of. After driving his car onto a sidewalk injuring three studentson their way to school, police say they have reason to believe WilliamRice was intoxicated at the time. People want to know why Rice, with astring of driving while impaired charges on his record, was behind thewheel of a car at all.

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

According to court records and the Department of Motor Vehicles, Ricehas a prior DWI conviction from 1989. In 1994, he was charged with DWIwith a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit. He was convicted ofreckless driving. In 1992, he was charged with DWI and was convicted ofrefusing to take a breath test, but got the DWI charge reduced to recklessdriving. In 1990, another DWI charge was reduced to driving with hislicense revoked.

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

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

He has convictions for several minor traffic offenses.

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

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