Commission Recommends Changes to DWI Laws and Correctional Policies

The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission released last November a report recommending several changes to the state’s impaired driving laws and correctional policies. The report marked the culmination of more than three years of study that included examination of DWI sentencing and correctional data as well as consideration of input from law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and providers of substance abuse treatment. The report’s fifteen recommendations address issues ranging from pretrial conditions of release for defendants charged with impaired driving to the place of confinement for defendants serving active sentences.

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New Criminal Offenses and New Credit Policies for Prisoners

Last year was a difficult one for North Carolina’s prison system. One correctional officer was killed by an inmate at Bertie Correctional Institution. Four staff members were killed during an attempted escape at Pasquotank. Today’s post summarizes some of the statutory and regulatory changes made in response to those incidents.

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Jail Credit in DWI Cases

Last week I got drawn into a discussion about a North Carolina local government official convicted of DWI. The question was whether he was getting “special treatment” when his 60-day sentences were cut in half to 30 days. As most readers of this blog know, there’s nothing special about that: most active DWI sentences (except for aggravated level one) are effectively cut in half by Good Time, pursuant to N.C. Department of Public Safety administrative policy. Today’s post considers a related wrinkle: when a DWI defendant has jail credit, should that credit be applied before or after the sentence is “cut in half”?

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Top 3 Questions About Level A1 DWI Sentences

The most serious level of misdemeanor DWI is Aggravated Level One, which I generally refer to as Level A1.  A defendant convicted of driving while impaired is subject to sentencing at Level A1 if three or more grossly aggravating factors apply.  G.S. 20-179(c). Typically, defendants sentenced at this level are repeat offenders, though it is … Read more


No Good Time to Be Had for Level A1 DWI Inmates

(Editor’s note: Jamie Markham is a co-author of this post.) Level A1 DWI.  The General Assembly created Aggravated Level One sentencing for misdemeanor impaired driving in 2011. See S.L. 2011-191 (enacting G.S. 20-179(f3)). Level A1 sentences require a term of imprisonment that includes a minimum term of 12 months and a maximum term of not … Read more

Post-Release Supervision for Aggravated Level One DWI Offenders

Shea Denning summarized S.L. 2011-191, Laura’s Law, in a prior post. To recap, the law adds a new punishment level for impaired driving sentencing, Aggravated Level One (hereinafter Level A1), for situations in which three or more grossly aggravating factors apply. Today’s post picks up on some of the points Shea mentioned in her earlier … Read more

Jones v. Keller

Last Friday, after years of litigation and months of deliberation, the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued its decision in Jones v. Keller. The case resolves the question of what sentence reduction credits, if any, apply to a group of life-sentenced inmates who were sentenced at a time when G.S. 14-2 read that a “sentence … Read more

Sentence Reduction Credit: The Basics

In several prior posts (including this one) I provided a link to the Department of Correction’s administrative regulation on sentence reduction credits.  I’ve written about the credits applicable in impaired driving cases, and just last week I wrote about a Supreme Court case on good time credit in the federal prison system. It occurs to … Read more