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New DWI law heads to the North Carolina House Finance Committee

A North Carolina House Judiciary subcommittee approved a bill yesterday aimed at increasing potential jail time, fines and court costs associated for those receiving repeat DWI convictions. Planned efforts to continuously monitor the alcohol consumption of such offenders for a post-release period of up to four months or for any pre-trial release period were also approved by the subcommittee.

This bill has been dubbed "Laura's Law," as it has come about in the wake of the death of a North Carolina teenager killed last summer by a drunk driver with prior drunk driving convictions. The girl's family gained momentum for such legislation by speaking with the news media in the wake of the accident, receiving widespread attention and sympathy.

Former North Carolina Representative Will Neumann caught wind of the family's story and worked with them to draw up an initial draft of what has become "Laura's Law." Initial incarnations of the bill suggested increasing ankle bracelet monitoring timeframes associated with repeat drunk driving convictions, as well as increasing the scope of offenders who must serve time. The bill was eventually brought to the House by Republican state representative Tim Moore back on February 1, where it had since sat with the subcommittee until yesterday.

The bill is now headed to the House Finance Committee. If passed into law, fines for offenders with three or more "grossly aggravating factors" stand to increase from the current $4,000 to $10,000. An additional $100 in court costs would also be added to the payment amount should someone be convicted of drunk driving.

Source: TheTimesNews.com "N.C. House panel passes tougher DWI punishments" by Barry Smith, 2/23/11

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