Local News

Many Call For Toughteer Drunk Diriving Penalties

Posted April 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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