WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New numbers show a dramatic drop in the number of driving while impaired cases dismissed voluntarily by prosecutors in Columbus County. That follows a WECT investigation in 2014 that showed Columbus County had the highest dismissal average of any county in the state, resulting in a prosecutor resigning from the District Attorney's office.
In the 2014-15 fiscal year, prosecutors in Columbus County voluntarily dismissed 24.8 percent of the driving while impaired cases, down from the 45 percent rate registered in 2013-14. While that is still higher than the state average of 21.4 percent, it is not even the highest rate in the 13th Judicial District. The voluntary dismissal rate in Brunswick County is 30 percent for 2014-15, up from 24 percent a year ago. The voluntary dismissal rate in Bladen County dropped to 20.6 percent in 2014-15, down from 28 percent the previous year.
Jon David, the District Attorney for the 13th Judicial District, was pleased when told the results of the report.
"When I became aware of the situation last year we took action on a personnel matter," David said. "These new statistics show we are moving in the right direction. We're grateful of the relationships we have with law enforcement as we work toward results-oriented prosecution. These numbers are reflective of that great effort."
Cases can be dismissed for a variety of reasons, including the arresting law enforcement officer not being present in court, tests returning inconclusive results or defendants entering pleas to other charges.
In the 5th Judicial District, rates for both New Hanover and Pender County courts were above the state average for voluntary dismissals in 2014-15. The rate in New Hanover County courts climbed from 26 percent in 2013-14 to 28.7 percent, while the rate in Pender County inched up to 28.6 percent from 27 percent the previous year.
Most of the local counties disposed of a similar number of cases from year to year. Only New Hanover County saw a larger increase, with 2,577 cases disposed in 2014-15 compared to 1,976 the previous year.
To see the report filed by the NC Administrative Office of the Courts click here: http://bit.ly/1IR5hxG
To see the original WECT investigation click here: http://bit.ly/1xHP0dn