Last week, Jamie blogged about the 2021 Structured Sentencing Statistical Report from the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. As Jamie noted, that report contains detailed information related to felony and misdemeanor sentences imposed in Fiscal Year 2021, including the most commonly used felony grid cell, the number of convictions by district, average probation length, and typical sentencing outcomes for the most charged offenses. Because that report analyzes felony and misdemeanor convictions and sentences imposed under the Structured Sentencing Act, it does not include information about one of the most commonly charged misdemeanors in North Carolina: driving while impaired, which is sentenced under the sentencing scheme set out in G.S. 20-179. The Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission prepares a separate report each year analyzing those convictions, and the Driving While Impaired Convictions Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2021 is available here. Read on for highlights from the report, which contains data about convictions under G.S. 20-179 from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Continue reading
Tag Archives: driving while impaired
Two recent North Carolina Court of Appeals opinions help delineate when an officer has probable cause to believe a driver is driving while impaired. In each case, the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s determination that the officer lacked probable cause.
Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported an estimated 10 percent increase in traffic fatalities for the first six months of 2016. NHTSA’s report was based on a statistical projection using data gathered, some of it in real time, from all 50 states. The increase is part of a trend. NHTSA reports that the second quarter of 2016 is “the seventh consecutive quarter with increases in fatalities as compared to corresponding quarters in previous years.” NHTSA said it was too early to identify a cause for the most recent uptick, but that hasn’t prevented safety advocates from working toward a solution.
On Fridays, National Public Radio features recordings from its Storycorps booth. These recordings sometimes feature a teacher and student, a parent and child, spouses, or a single person discussing a life-changing experience. They are always thought-provoking, and often are heart-wrenching.
I’m not looking to steal Storycorps’ thunder nor aiming to make anyone cry (a common Storycorps side effect), but I am interested in creating a broadcast for the School of Government that relates to impaired driving. I want to start by hearing from people who have been convicted of misdemeanor impaired driving. I want to know whether and how that experience altered the course of their lives–for the better or for the worse. Continue reading →
Do DWI sentences really get cut in half? Can DWI inmates be paroled? What happens when the minimum and maximum sentence for a DWI are the same? These questions and more are answered in today’s video post.
What is the basis for the indefinite license revocation reflected in the driving record entry below?
A. A revocation under G.S. 20-24.1 for failure to appear for a motor vehicle offense.
B. A revocation under G.S. 20-24.1 for failure to pay a fine, penalty or court costs ordered by the court upon conviction of a motor vehicle offense.
C. A one-year revocation under G.S. 20-17(a)(2) for conviction of DWI that is extended by G.S. 20-17.6(b).
D. It is not possible, without additional information, to determine the reason for the revocation.
This entry reflects a driver’s license revocation entered pursuant to G.S. 20-17(a)(2) for conviction of impaired driving. The person committed the offense on June 25, 2010 and was convicted on October 25, 2010. Her license was revoked for one year. G.S. 20-19 (c1). (Had the record been printed before October 25, 2011, the “INDEF” entry would have contained the date 10-25-11.) The asterisk beside the conviction indicates that DMV has not yet received the certificate of completion reflecting that the person completed his or her substance abuse assessment or treatment. Thus, when the one-year revocation period expired, the revocation did not end, as it otherwise would have, but instead continued pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 20-17.6(b). So, answer C is correct.
How can I be sure?
There are several ways in which a person’s license may be indefinitely suspended in connection with impaired driving charges. A person may have his license revoked for a civil license revocation under G.S. 20-16.5. Unlike the driving record entry above, these revocations contain the entry “SUSP: 30 DAY CIVIL REVOCATION (SUSPENSION).” A person’s driver’s license may be revoked for her failure to appear or failure to pay a fine, penalty or court costs. G.S. 20-24.1. Entries for those revocations state “SUSP: FAILURE TO APPEAR,” or “SUSP: FAILURE TO PAY FINE.” The entry above, in contrast, reflects that the revocation is for conviction of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1.
Driver’s license revocations for convictions of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1 never begin as indefinite revocations. Instead they are for a term of years or are permanent. The revocation period is four years if the person is convicted of impaired driving and has a previous conviction for an offense involving impaired driving that occurred within three years before the offense for which the person’s license is being revoked. G.S. 20-19(d). Thus, if the person whose driving record is depicted above previously had been convicted of impaired driving for an offense that occurred on June 26, 2007, the revocation period would have been four years.
The revocation period is permanent for a person convicted of impaired driving who previously has been convicted of two or more offenses involving impaired driving, with the most recent of those offenses occurring within five years before the date of the offense for which the person’s license is being revoked. G.S. 20-19(e). No conviction more than ten years old may be considered (unless the offense occurred in a commercial motor vehicle or was committed by the holder of a commercial driver’s license). G.S. 20-36. All other revocations for conviction of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1 are for one year. G.S. 20-19(c1). The “1” beside “OFFENSE OF DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED” indicates that DMV considers this a first conviction for revocation purposes.
In order for a person whose license is revoked for impaired driving to have his license restored after the period of revocation ends, DMV must receive a certificate of completion. G.S. 20-17.6(b). To obtain a certificate of completion, the person must have a substance abuse assessment and, depending on the results of the assessment, complete either an alcohol or drug education school (ADET) or a substance abuse treatment program. G.S. 20-17.6(c). Moreover, the revocation period for a person whose license is revoked for a conviction of driving while impaired in violation of G.S. 20-138.1 is extended until DMV receives the certificate of completion. G.S. 20-17.6(b).
A person convicted of driving while impaired based on an offense that occurred while his or her license was revoked for an impaired driving revocation may have her sentence enhanced by the grossly aggravating factor in G.S. 20-179(c)(2). This factor applies if, in committing the instant impaired driving offense, the person drove a motor vehicle on a highway while her license was revoked and the revocation was an impaired driving revocation as that term is defined in G.S. 20-28.2(a). Revocations under G.S. 20-17(a)(2) are included among impaired driving revocations. That same rule applies when those revocations are extended pursuant to G.S. 20-17.6. See State v. Coffey, 189 N.C. App. 382, 386 (2008) (concluding in an impaired driving case in which the defendant’s earlier conviction-based impaired driving revocation was extended under G.S. 20-17.6 that “there was overwhelming and uncontroverted evidence that at the time of the offense, defendant was driving while his license was revoked and that such revocation was an impaired driving revocation”). So, if the person whose driving record is set forth above drives a motor vehicle while impaired on a highway on August 11, 2013 and is convicted under G.S. 20-138.1 she will be sentenced, at a minimum, to Level One punishment. Two grossly aggravating factors apply. She has a prior conviction for an offense involving impaired driving within seven years (G.S. 20-179(c)(1)), and she drove a motor vehicle while impaired on a highway while subject to an impaired driving revocation (G.S. 20-179(c)(2)).