DA: People with several DWIs are hard to keep behind bars - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

DA: People with several DWIs are hard to keep behind bars

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Thousands of people are arrested each year for driving drunk in North Carolina and most of them are still on the roads. Some local leaders are now trying to change that.

On November 4, 2012, two accidents occurred. Anthony Thompson ran over a tow truck driver who was helping a lady change her tire. John Colville died on the scene.

Gwendolyn Brewington Jenness caused the other accident, on 17th street. All parties involved are in critical condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. 

Both drivers were driving while impaired and both drivers had prior DWI convictions.

The District Attorney's office said the problem is with the law.

"We get it," said Ben David, District Attorney for New Hanover and Pender County. "We understand that impaired drivers pose a specific health risk to everybody that's on the roads and this is a priority for the people in the criminal justice system."    

David said Thompson had 8 DWIs in a 25 year period. That is not enough to convict for a felony.

"The revolving door of the criminal justice system is frustrating to officers on the street, frustrating to prosecutors, it's frustrating to judges," said David.

The sentence for DWI is 2 years but many offenders end up serving 30 days. David said it's because of overcrowding. The state needs to provide funding for more prisons and drug court.

"We need long term treatment," said David. "You cant incarcerate your way out of a problem of drug addiction and alcohol addiction. They're going to be out at some point."

David said their best defense right now is education and awareness.

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