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.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY DRUNK OR DRUG- IMPAIRED DRIVING, MADD IS HERE TO HELP. CALL OUR VICTIM/ SURVIVOR 24-HOUR HELPLINE AT 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435).
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