This recent article highlights some of the controversies surrounding North Carolina’s newest and most sweeping changes to its already strict and harsh DWI laws. Let’s be frank. It is going to be very difficult to get a fair trial now in NC. The “mystery box” now rules. We are going to be convicting defendants based on “voodoo science” that even the police officers and prosecutors themselves cannot explain. The breahalyzer is a machince, not an “instrument.” And like every other machine ever invented, it has flaws and a “margin of error” in its “readings.” And, with high use and improper maintenance, it is going to make mistakes and give false readings. But, just to be clear, brand new, right out of the box, no one can fully demonstrate how it actually does what it is supposed to do. The “magical solution” upon which all results are based is made up of….well, only the manufacturer knows. The exact chemical compound is proprietary.
I agree with Bill Powers. This latest law minimizes the need for judges and juries in NC. The BA reading is all the State needs to convict now. The penalties for a first time, no accident, no injury DWI were harsh already, but now, will be financially devestating to most hard working people. Let’s also remember that the “legal limit” has steadily been arbitrarily reduced, without any significant additional research on human physiology. Originally, the legal limit was 0.15, nearly double the current standard. Then, it was 0.12, and for years and years, it was 0.10. Even now, there are calls to lower the standard again to 0.06. Apparently, no one is supposed to be able to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with a friend. The new law in response to a truly tragic DWI death case appears to go too far while attempting to “close loopholes.”
In our DWI practice at Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, we represent those individuals who have found themselves caught up the maze of a first time DWI arrest. Most have had a calculated number of drinks and felt that they were perfectly fine to drive home safely. They are hard working people who would never endanger their fellow citizens or put their driving privilieges at risk. It goes without saying that no one wants truly drunk drivers on our roads. However, justice requires much more than this new law mandates. Persons not guilty of actually driving while impaired are going to be convicted wrongfully and swept away in the current hysteria. The otherwise law-abiding citizens of our state can only hope that the NC appellate courts will take a more balanced and fair approach.
If you have been charged wrongfully under this new law, call us today for a private consultation at 704-499-9000. And for more information about our law firm and attorneys, please visit our website at www.rjrlaw.com.
Tougher N.C. DWI Law To Make Convictions Easier
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
But the new legislation is already raising questions.
“We’ve gone too far,” said Bill Powers, a defense attorney. “No one likes drunk driving. I don’t like drunk driving. I’m married, I have a child.”
Powers says the law goes too far because it short-circuits a legal system that is supposed to play out in the courtroom.
“Really we don’t need judges anymore. We don’t need juries anymore. They can just go to court and have to find them guilty without listening to the facts,” he said.
Bruce Lillie, an assistant district attorney, says he disagrees.
Lillie supervises the prosecutors who handle driving while impaired cases in Mecklenburg County. He says the new law is one of the toughest in the country, but it is not taking anyone’s rights out of the courtroom.
“What it’s doing is it is closing loopholes – guilty or not guilty,” he said.
Prosecutors say you can still come to court and challenge how a DWI arrest was made and whether the machine was accurate, but defense attorneys believe the legislation will probably end up before a judge on constitutional grounds. For now – it’s the law.
That new law also lists more than a hundred drugs, including prescription drugs and their basic ingredients that are enough to find a driver guilty of DWI. It also gives prosecutors the ability to challenge rulings that go against them on technicalities in DWI cases