MADD’s Court Monitoring Program enlists court monitors to observe and document what happens in the courtroom during impaired driving case proceedings. The program was created to ensure that impaired driving offenders are prosecuted and justice is achieved. Court monitoring is a tool proven to affect the adjudication process and is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as an effective countermeasure to reduce impaired driving 1 . Court monitors on the local scale can impact the

handling of impaired driving cases by their mere presence in the court room. Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. One way this goal is achieved is by sharing data and observations with law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and the public to promote awareness of impaired driving and ensure accountability for all impaired driving offenders. To reduce future offenses, MADD® supports swift and unbiased treatment of all impaired driving cases. 1 Richard, C. M., Magee, K., Bacon-Abdelmoteleb, P., & Brown, J. L. (2018, April). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for State Highway Safety Offic- es, Ninth edition (Report No. DOT HS 812 478). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This report is designed to present observations and trends relative to the counties monitored and is not intended to be a statistical analysis. North Carolina State Report (reporting period: 1/1/2020 – 12/31/2020) Guilty

864 76 301 5

69% 6% 24% <1%

Not Guilty Dismissed Amended Or Plea Deal

Pending Cases Monitored:



Adjudicated Cases Monitored:




Disposition Sealed / Unable To Determine Disposition

Total Cases Monitored in 2020:



*Pending cases are cases waiting a judgement result. To learn more about each state MADD monitors, visit madd.org/courts

*Age and Gender data based off cases where appropriate information could be collected (over 70% of cases monitored) .

Disposition By County

Disposition Sealed / Unable To Determine Disposition

Dismissed / Failure To Prosecute


Amended Or Plea Deal

Not Guilty

Gender & Age Of the DWI cases monitored in 2020, 74% of the defendants were male drivers. Defendants under the age of 30 account for almost 40% of all the cases; including over 100 cases in which the offender was under the legal drinking age of 21. This remains steady with what we have seen in the past few years and with overall statistics of impaired driving.

Male Female


Of the cases in which the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) could be ascertained, a staggering 45% of the drivers had a BAC of 0.15 or higher; which is almost twice the state legal limit of .08. Unfortunately, we could not determine the BAC in almost 700 cases as it was not available in the public database and court monitors were not able to be present during proceedings due to court closures and COVID-19 restrictions.

3% 1%



.0 – .08 .09 – .14 .20 – .25 .15 – .19 .26 – .29



.30 Or Higher

Case Age

From the collected data and in-person observations, DWI cases continue to linger in the court system for well over 12 months and often over 2 years. The requests for Motion for Continuance often prolongs cases, which occurred more often this year due to court capacity limitations and closures. This issue will only be exacerbated in the following year by the continued strain of court closings and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.




1 – 4 Months 5 – 9 Months 16 – 20 Months 10 – 15 Months 21 – 25 Months


26 Or More Months



Key Findings and Observations MADD’s North Carolina Court Monitoring Program observes DWI cases in counties throughout the state with funding provided by the Governors Highway Safety Program. Data is collected by trained volunteers and staff by observing court proceedings held in District Courts throughout the state. Volunteers monitored weekly in 10 counties while a dedicated staff member covered an additional 9 counties on a rotating basis. A new court monitor was trained to observe in court in Robeson County but was unable to attend any court proceedings due to the COVID shut down. Additional information is collected from the public use terminals at clerk of court’s office. Due to the courts being closed for several months and capacity limited from the COVID-19 pandemic, most data from April through December 2020 was collected through the public use terminals, which limited the available data to that which was entered into the system by the court clerks. Through the examination of the data from 2020, the following are general observations for the counties with court monitoring in North Carolina: • Almost 25% of cases that were closed in 2020 were dismissed, with some counties having a dismissal rate as high as 40% of cases monitored. Because of the pandemic, most information was gathered from the public use computers, which often does not show the reason for dismissals. • Of the cases in which we could determine prior DWI convictions, 43% of offenders have at least 1 prior DWI conviction in the state of North Carolina. This information is most often presented at sentencing and not necessarily reflected in information available through the public use computers. In many cases, these defendants also had one or multiple previous arrests for DWIs which were dismissed. • Almost 50% of DWI cases take well over a year before a case is completed in District Court with many lasting over 24 months. There are many contributing factors including large dockets, extensive use of the motion for continuance, officers unable to be in court and the inability to get the state chemical analyst for the court date. The effect of the pandemic has only complicated these issues as courts have been closed or operating under capacity limits since March 2020. • In most jurisdictions, the judicial branch continues to adhere to the sentencing guidelines. In many counties, we observe that defendants are given a continuance to have additional time to complete their community service and substance abuse assessment before sentencing to reduce court costs. Some counties, such as Durham County, require the defendant to appear for a court appearance after sentencing to show that all requirements have been completed.


Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime, yet continues to happen across the United States. Each year, about 1 million individuals are arrested. What happens after those arrests depends on the criminal justice system. As a MADD court monitor, you can get the insider’s perspective on the judicial system while making a vital contribution to your local community. Your presence in court and the data you collect will help make sure our laws are upheld and the criminal justice system does what it is intended to do: Keep us safe. Court monitors achieve the work of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program by doing the following:

Remind law enforcement that MADD wants to see their cases prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law

Track conviction rates and sanctions

Identify trends in offender age, gender, and blood alcohol concentration level

Notify judicial system of deficiencies

Create public outcry when weaknesses go unaddressed

For more information about court monitoring efforts in your state, please visit madd.org/courts .

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