Habitual DWI offenders could regain their licenses

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - House lawmakers voted Wednesday to give some habitual drunk drivers another chance behind the wheel.

Right now, four convictions means you lose your license for life, but some lawmakers think those offenders should have a fifth chance.

A bill in the North Carolina General Assembly would allow habitual DWI offenders another chance to get their license if they can stay out of drinking or driving trouble for ten years after their fourth conviction.

"With drunk drivers, or impaired drivers, they don't get caught every time they are out driving impaired," said Barb Lynch of Justice in Motion.  "It's very seldom they get caught right away."

The bill passed the Senate Wednesday and will now head back to the House where New Hanover and Pender County Representative Sandra Spaulding Hughes plans to vote in favor of it.

"I feel that persons can be given a second chance, particularly if they have undergone counseling and rehabilitated themselves for ten years," said Hughes.  "That's a long time."

Assistant District Attorney Doug Carriker said it's important to keep habitual offenders off the streets.

"From the point of view of a prosecutor, you want to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road," said Carriker.  "These are people with four convictions on the road.  It's not true to call this bill to give offenders a second chance, it's going to give them a fifth chance.  We don't need that."

If the bill passes the House and avoids a governor's veto, the new plan would take effect December 1, 2009.

The offenders would have to go through a hearing process before getting their licenses back.

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