WECT Investigates UPDATE: DWI dismissals down drastically in Columbus County

WECT Investigates UPDATE: DWI dismissals down drastically in Columbus County
North Carolina statutes instruct officers that "unless the driver volunteers the information that he/she has consumed an alcoholic beverage within the previous 15 minutes, the officer shall administer a screening test as soon as possible." (Source: WECT)

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) - Voluntary dismissals of DWI cases in Columbus County have dropped significantly in the three months since a WECT News investigation found the District Attorney's office had the highest rate in North Carolina.

Records show prosecutors in Columbus County voluntarily dismissed 16 percent of driving while impaired cases from November-January, down from 45.5 percent in FY 2013-2014 that topped the state.

"These statistics reflect a significant step in a positive direction," David said about the improved rate. "I couldn't be more proud of our team and our partnership with law enforcement in the face of this challenge."

Reports say from November-January, 87 DWI cases were disposed in Columbus County, with 12 dismissed by the court and 14 dismissed by prosecutors.

Here is the breakdown of prosecutor dismissals according to the District Attorney's office:

-Driving after consuming under 21, dismissed pursuant to plea to DWI – 3

-Possession of open container, dismissed pursuant to plea to DWI - 1

-Age of case (1989, 1993) – 2

-Motion to suppress allowed by the court – 3

-Motion to continue denied – 2 (1 will be re-charged)

-Officer unavailable – 1

-Private witness unavailable – 1

-Unable to prove impairment – 1

David changed prosecutors in Columbus County in October 2014, after WECT contacted him about the high dismissal rate. Assistant District Attorneys C. Ashley Gore and Heath Nance have signed the dismissal forms provided by the District Attorney's office for November-January.

"When I was first presented with the problem, I made significant personnel moves and re-doubled our efforts to work closely with law enforcement," David said in his statement. "Our team has worked diligently to correct this problem, and I think the statistics reflect that. Law enforcement has worked very cooperatively with us to help us achieve this goal. The community should expect and demand nothing less."

To review the WECT News Investigation from 2014, click here: http://bit.ly/1xHP0dn

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