Lawmakers are debating a three-strikes policy for drunk drivers in North Carolina. After two convictions, a third would mean being charged as a habitual DWI offender under a new law that has already passed the House and under consideration in the Senate.
Currently, someone who has been convicted of three drunk driving offenses within a 10-year period can be charged with habitual DWI. Proposed legislation seeks to cut that number down to two convictions and remove the time frame.
Removing the 10-year lookback period for habitual DWI would mean that two DWI convictions that occurred 15 and 20 years ago could form the basis of a habitual DWI charge for after a third DWI arrest in 2013. Some believe this get-tough legislation is way overdue.
A habitual DWI charge carries much tougher penalties than just a DWI charge. If convicted as a habitual drunk driver in North Carolina, you will:
- Lose your North Carolina driving privileges. There is no period of suspension or period of revocation. Your driver's license will be permanently revoked and you will not be able to legally drive in North Carolina.
- Spend at least a year in prison. Habitual DWI is a felony that carries a mandatory minimum one-year sentence that cannot be suspended. This one-year sentence is in addition to any other prison sentence that resulted from the most recent DWI conviction.
- Possibly lose your car. Your car may be forfeited after a habitual DWI conviction. Your car will be sold. Anyone with a security interest (such as an auto loan) will be paid first and any remaining money will go to the local school district. You will not receive any money from the sale of your car.
In addition, you will have to undergo substance abuse counseling as part of your sentencing package.
Source: WSOCTV, "Bills would stiffen penalties for repeat DWI offenders," April 9, 2013