The North Carolina State Legislature recently enacted a new law referred to as Laura's Law. Laura's Law creates stiffer penalties for repeat drunk driving offenders. The law, which went into effect last June, increases the length of the prison sentence and court fees an offender must pay.
The law was named for Laura Fortenberry, a 17-year-old from Gaston County. Laura was killed after being hit head-on by a drunk driver. She was driving to a babysitting job when the accident occurred. The driver that struck her had three previous DWI convictions at the time of the North Carolina DWI accident.
Following her daughter's death, Laura's mother began pleading with state legislators to strengthen North Carolina's DWI laws, particularly those targeting repeat offenders. She worked closely with State Representative Tim Moore to create the new law.
The legislation they crafted increases the potential jail time a repeat offender must serve, from 12 to 36 months. According to Moore, repeat offenders receiving a 24-month sentence often served only a portion in the past. The new law, however, means that a defendant receiving a 36-month sentence will in fact serve 36 months.
The law also requires repeat offenders to wear an ankle bracelet for an extended time period, and dramatically increases the fines an offender must pay. Previous legislation required offenders to wear ankle bracelets for 60 days, whereas the new law requires offenders to wear an ankle bracelet for a minimum of four months. The law also increases the court costs an offender must pay up to $10,000 dollars.
Hopefully the new legislation will prevent tragedies, like the one that killed Laura Fortehberry, from occurring in North Carolina.