Earlier this week, this blog reported that a man was charged with driving while impaired on a moped in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. A similar account has made the news in Clinton, North Carolina-at least as far as the vehicle involved in the DWI allegations. However, Police in Clinton claim that the man accused of DWI while riding a moped is a repeat offender.
Law enforcement says that authorities received several calls about a man on a moped. One caller told dispatchers that the man kept falling off the motorized bike. A police officer looked for the man, but apparently could not locate the man or the moped. Later, the caller phoned authorities again claiming that the man was at a gas station.
The officer searched the area, but still could not find the moped. A short time later, the officer found a man in the middle of a Clinton street-underneath a fallen moped.
The police officer arrested the Clinton man on suspicion of drunk driving charges. Authorities claim that the man blew an alcohol reading of 0.29 percent. However, officials apparently claim that the man had several prior DWI convictions on his record within a 10-year time frame. In addition to DWI, the man has been charged with felony habitual DWI, according to the Sampson Independent. The man was booked into jail with bond set at $22,000. His next court date is scheduled for March 14.
North Carolina law treats any DWI conviction harshly. But the consequences become more strict if a person has a prior DWI conviction in a specified number of years.
When a driver is accused of new DWI charges with three prior convictions within 10 years, North Carolina law allows authorities to seek habitual DWI charges, which is a felony level offense. A person convicted of felony habitual DWI in North Carolina must expect to serve time in prison.
State law requires judges to impose a mandatory minimum of one year in prison for a conviction of habitual DWI, a minimum sentence that cannot be suspended. The judge can impose a longer sentence in excess of the mandatory minimum.
Source: Sampson Independent, "Clinton man charged with habitual DWI," Sherry Matthews, Jan. 14, 2013