Vice Squad
Sunday, August 08, 2004
More on Avoiding Per Se Drunk Driving Laws

The Charlotte Observer story that served as the basis for the previous post about the workings South Carolina's per se drunk-driving law is but one of many DWI stories in today's Observer. The newspaper is conducting a three-part series on DWI. Today's edition also looks at how North Carolina's per se law works in practice, and includes separate stories on Charlotte-area counties. It seems that many people who register above .08 plead guilty. But for those who go to trial, as in South Carolina, a measured blood-alcohol content of .08 or above is far from assuring conviction. Here's a snippet from an Observer editorial (entitled "Sobering acquittals") that draws upon their DWI investigation:
The law is the law.

Unless the law is North Carolina's law saying driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 means you are driving while impaired.

Unless you're in one of those counties where people tried for DWI after testing over the legal alcohol limit have only a 1 in 10 chance of conviction.

Or unless, with your 0.08 or 0.09 reading, you arrive in the courtrooms of some judges whose conviction rates in such cases are shockingly below the state's average and those of most of their judicial colleagues.

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