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Many Call For Toughteer Drunk Diriving Penalties

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RALEIGH — Ronnie Grice has been arrested at least nine times, but in 1995 he killeda woman while driving drunk. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

In Durham, Timothy Blackwell, convicted five times for drunk driving, isnow charged with first degree murder for the death of four-year-old MeganDail.

But what happens when the victim doesn't die? Young Frank Nicolson spentmore than four months in the hospital after being critically injured byWilliam Rice's car.

Rice had previously been arrested four times for DWI. A 1994 charge wasreduced because the officer was no longer on the Highway Patrol. A 1992charge was reduced on account of lack of evidence, and a 1990 charge wasdismissed. A 1989 DWI charge was the only one that stuck.

Rice pleaded guilty this week to assault with a deadly weapon. He wassentenced to only 25 months in prison.

Assistant D.A. Jeff Cruden said that he tried to punish Rice much moreseverely, but due to Rice's lack of a prior record, his hands weretied.

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For years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been pleading for toughersentences for drunk drivers. M.A.D.D.'s Karyn Brown said that the injuredvictim is usually forgotten about, and she wants to see drunk drivingpenalties stiffened in North Carolina.

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